UN Command in Pickle Over Footage of N.Korean Defector

  • By Lee Yong-soo

    November 17, 2017 09:23

    The UN Command has put off releasing a video clip of a North Korean soldier fleeing to South Korea through the Joint Security Area on Monday.

    The UNC had originally planned to release the footage on Thursday but faced a protest from reporters because it seems to have been edited down to almost nothing.

    On Wednesday, the UNC promised to release footage of the soldier's flight, but on Thursday it backtracked and said it would release only a 26-second edited version "to avoid unnecessary speculation."

    Reporters on the defense beat said that is not enough to shed light on the incident because it would probably omit key parts that would show whether North Korean guards crossed the military demarcation line in pursuit.

    They said it was risible to reflect a chain of events that lasted about 40 minutes in 26 seconds of video. The UNC then held a meeting to discuss releasing a full version, but a spokesman later said it would be impossible to do that this week. The spokesman said the problem is that that the UNC chief, U.S. Forces Korea Commander Vincent Brooks, is out of the country.

    Lawmakers look at documents related to a North Korean soldier who fled to the South, at the National Assembly in Seoul on Tuesday. /Yonhap

    Military sources said the unedited version shows one of four North Korean guards momentarily crossing the MDL while giving chase.

    They said there is no MDL marker at the scene, but one North Korean guard is seen passing the mid-point of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission building, which straddles the line. As if suddenly realizing what he is doing, the guard is seen to pause, look around, and hastily turn back.

    The full-length footage also reportedly shows some North Korean guards lying down to fire aimed shots at the fleeing defector and the defector crossing the MDL unsteadily in a low sprint.

    Meanwhile, the National Intelligence Service has identified the defector as a staff sergeant in his mid-20s assigned to the Joint Security Area.

    NIS officers told the National Assembly Intelligence Committee that the defector did not carry any provisions when he fled, according to Minjoo Party lawmaker Kim Byung-kee.

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