22 November 2017

Korean People's Army soldier flees for freedom over the DMZ, gets shot

A bit of context.  

The two Koreas are divided by the DeMilitarised Zone (DMZ) which is actually one of the most militarised zones anywhere in the world.   I've travelled on the road to the DMZ from the northern side and you can see that very road (in the DMZ) up till he passes a checkpoint at around 1:07.  That is the first indication he is not authorised to drive in the DMZ.  Before that is a major north Korean tourist landmark in the DMZ as the location where the Armistice that halted the Korean War was signed (called the DPRK "Peace Museum" naturally).   It is in the heavily forested area to the right side of the footage up till the checkpoint that he is seen passing.  When I was there, there were several tour coaches located on this road, they are not visible here, indicating no foreign tourists were at the DMZ on this day (had there been, it may have stopped them as there are likely to be more guards on such a day).

At 1:18 you can see the panic as he passes the checkpoint although slowing down to cross Bridge 72 (still on the northern side) into the northern half of the Joint Security Area.  That is effectively when he has moved from the northern part of the DMZ into the concentrated JSA.  No more than 35 guards are permitted to be on duty, for each side, in the JSA.  At 1:33 he is in the JSA.  By this point, he will have caused a major panic on the northern side as he will have been keenly observed.  By 1:55 he has passed Tongil Gak, which is the northern side meeting house where joint meetings between both sides are held on an alternate basis with the southern equivalent (Peace House is the southern side equivalent).

At 2:00 he passes the Kim Il Sung "signature" monument which was installed shortly after he died in 1994.  The myth is that his last statement the day before he died on 8 July 1994 was this one, of course seeking reunification (ignoring that few on the southern side want a reunified personality cult led slave state like exists in the north).  Shortly after that he drives towards the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), which is effectively the boundary of control between the two Koreas.  It is then he stops driving near a Korean People's Army building on the MDL.  At 2:28 the shot shifts to see the reaction of soldiers from the northern side in front of the main DMZ buildings on the northern side running to see what is going on.

At 2:55 you can see his vehicle is stuck, he is fewer than 10 metres away from the other side.  At 2:58 he escapes the vehicle and runs for it, while being shot at by the Korean People's Army (KPA) soldiers. At 3:02 another image shows him on the southern side running for "Freedom House" the southern side main building.  At 3:12 one KPA soldier is seen crossing the MDL, which is a big no-no, in pursuit before he remembers and runs back.  Footage for a while after that shows KPA soldiers rallying in panic, but from 4:59, southern (Republic of Korea) soldiers crawl to recover the injured defector.  Crawling out of fear that the KPA ones might shoot them.

That's it.  The KPA is among the most well fed organisation in the north, it's curious that the number of army defectors has been growing in recent years, as news of the outside world trickles in via DVDs smuggled in via China of life in the south.