North Korea's wounded defector 'nice guy', says surgeon | Reuters

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea’s latest defector, a young soldier known only by his family name Oh, is a quiet, pleasant man who has nightmares about being returned to the North, his surgeon said on Thursday. Lee Cook-jong, a South Korean surgeon who operated the defected North Korean soldier with gunshots, speaks during an interview with Reuters at a hospital in Suwon, South Korea, November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Yang Hee-kyong“He’s a pretty nice guy,” said lead surgeon John Cook-Jong Lee, who has been operating and caring for the 24-year-old.

Reuters November 24, 2017 00:00:20 IST
North Korea's wounded defector 'nice guy', says surgeon | Reuters

North Koreas wounded defector nice guy says surgeon  ReutersSEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea’s latest defector, a young soldier known only by his family name Oh, is a quiet, pleasant man who has nightmares about being returned to the North, his surgeon said on Thursday. Lee Cook-jong, a South Korean surgeon who operated the defected North Korean soldier with gunshots, speaks during an interview with Reuters at a hospital in Suwon, South Korea, November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Yang Hee-kyong“He’s a pretty nice guy,” said lead surgeon John Cook-Jong Lee, who has been operating and caring for the 24-year-old. Oh has become a focus of worldwide attention after he was badly wounded by fellow North Korean soldiers as he scrambled across the border in the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South on Nov. 13. Video of Oh’s escape released on Wednesday showed him stumbling over the border and being dragged unconscious through the undergrowth by South Korean troops. Surgeon Lee has been almost the only person to speak with Oh since he arrived at the hospital, he told Reuters in an interview at his office at Ajou University Hospital, just a few floors away from where the defector lies guarded by South Korean special forces and intelligence officers. The surgeon, who has hung a South Korean flag in the soldier’s room, said he is avoiding subjects that may disturb his patient. Oh is eating his first “clear liquid” food such as broths, and can smile, talk, and use his hands, Lee said. But when his patient woke on Sunday he cried out in pain, and Lee said he is still anxious about the South Korean guards. Lee said Oh told him that he had joined the North Korean army when he was 17, right after secondary school graduation. The soldier’s hair is styled “like a jarhead, like a U.S. Marine, so I actually joked ‘why don’t you join the South Korean Marines?’ He smiled and said that he would never ever go back to the military system again.”  Medical teams have worked for days to remove the shards of at least four bullets from Oh’s body, stitch up his shredded organs, and treat pre-existing conditions including tuberculosis, hepatitis B, and a case of massive intestinal worms, Lee said. “He’s a quite strong man,” said Lee. Since Oh’s defection, North Korea appeared to have replaced all its security guards on the border, an intelligence source in the South told Yonhap news agency on Thursday. COLLAPSED LUNG Lee said that when the defector arrived in an American military helicopter at the hospital – which is equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and is used to treat VIP visitors such as visiting U.S. presidents - he came with zero personal information. On the flight in, American army flight medics had fought to keep Oh alive, jabbing a large needle into his chest to treat a collapsed lung. CCTV footage shows a North Korean soldier crossing the white Military Demarcation Line, shown during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of another soldier's defection, at the South Korean defense ministry in Seoul.

REUTERS/Reuters TVOh was immediately wheeled into a diagnostic room where doctors confirmed he was suffering from massive internal bleeding. “We knew then that we didn’t have time to hesitate,” Lee said, standing in that room Thursday night. Two major surgeries were required to remove the bullets and patch Oh back together, and the medical team pumped as much as 12 litres of new blood into his body. The normal body has less than half as much blood. “He told me that he is so thankful for South Koreans for saving his life and giving him that much blood,” Lee said. Lee has been playing South Korean pop music and American films and TV shows for his patient, but has not exposed him to any news coverage. Among the shows, Oh showed a liking for the French-American thriller “Transporter 3,” comedy “Bruce Almighty” starring Jim Carrey and Morgan Freeman; and the crime-solving TV series “CSI,” Lee said. SCARS Most North Korean defectors undergo security questioning by South Korea’s intelligence agency once they arrive in the South before being sent to a resettlement centre for a three-month education on life in the South. After they are released, central and local governments provide 7 million won ($6,450) in cash over a year, as well as support in housing, education and job training. Police officers are assigned to each of the defectors to ensure their security and safety. Even if Oh fully recovers, some scars will stay for the rest of his life, the surgeon said. Among the longest lasting wounds will be the damage to his colon, which was shredded by a bullet and had to be stitched back together in seven places. “It’s a lifelong complication for the patient, so he’s better to be very cautious in his diet,” said the surgeon. Besides the potential for further medical complications, Lee says he is most worried about making sure Oh recovers psychologically. The soldier has already told him he had a nightmare about being returned to the North. The surgeon said he has asked senior South Korean military officials who are eager to question the soldier to hold off while he recovers. “This North Korean guy is not going anywhere,” Lee said. “He is staying in South Korea. So we don’t need to be hasty.”

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

Alphabet's Waymo partners with Google Maps to offer autonomous rides
Business

Alphabet's Waymo partners with Google Maps to offer autonomous rides

(Reuters) - Alphabet Inc's self-driving unit Waymo said on Thursday it had partnered with Google's Maps to let users book fully autonomous ride-hailing services through the app.

Tesla revises plans for German gigafactory with more details on product lines
Business

Tesla revises plans for German gigafactory with more details on product lines

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Tesla on Thursday revised its application for a planned gigafactory in Europe to include details for plans to produce battery cells on site and an expansion of other production lines, German officials said. It also includes plans to reduce water consumption so that usage remains constant compared to earlier proposals despite the expansion. Tesla has sharply criticised the lengthy regulatory processes in Germany and has pushed back the factory's opening date.

Facebook ready to commit to clear ad data access for partners, French watchdog says
Business

Facebook ready to commit to clear ad data access for partners, French watchdog says

By Mathieu Rosemain PARIS (Reuters) - U.S. social media giant Facebook has offered to commit to providing its partners with clear and objective conditions of access to advertising inventories and ad campaign data, France's antitrust authority said on Thursday following an investigation.