Anthony Barone, Contributing Writer |
Earlier last week, a North Korean Border Security Guard took possession of a military jeep and attempted to drive through the Demarcation Line dividing North and South Korea.
Soon after he commandeered the vehicle, he hit a ditch with the jeep, causing it to become stuck. Then, in a dramatic fashion, he ran on foot over the Demarcation line, sustaining five bullet wounds in the process. He made it to the South Korean side, where South Korean and American soldiers pulled him to safety and airlifted him to Ajou University Hospital.
The man, Oh Chong Song, had become a defector, or someone that abandons their country in favor of an opposing country. After his rescue, he was operated on as soon as possible, almost dying in the process. During the operation, it is reported that parasites as long as ten inches were found in his intestines.
According to CNN, this could be caused by poor health habits: “Intestinal worms are typically transmitted through contact with feces or unwashed hands. The use of human fertilizer on crops and poor sanitary conditions can also aid the transmission of parasitic cysts.”
While Oh is healing, “Complications from tuberculosis and hepatitis B continue to compromise his recovery, especially his liver function.”
Oh is wanted for questioning by the South Korean government as he is speculated to have integral information on the operations of the North Korean military.
However, there is a theory that the defection could have been staged as propaganda against North Korea’s socialist regime. Would a highly trusted border security soldier from North Korea decide to defect? Would North Korea leave one of its high ranking members to suffer from debilitating diseases? Should Oh be painted as a freedom fighter before Americans know anything about him?
While the defection may indeed have happened, we have yet to see clear images of the defector, nor can we confirm that parasites were inhabiting his body. American media has recycled old war footage to portray current wars, an example being the reuse of Desert Storm footage for the early Syrian campaign, so even imagery can be misleading.
According to The Guardian, North Korean defectors have a history of giving unreliable testimonies, partly due to monetary compensation for the stories, pressure from the American media to share a shocking story, and the testifier’s desire to assure people that North Korea violates human rights.
While North Korea has proven to deeply violate human rights, there is currently great tension between the DPRK and the Western powers, so people should contextualize news reports and speculate upon individual situations.