“In my over-20-year-long career as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a textbook.”
A few days ago, a North Korean soldier fled across the border to South Korea in s hailstorm of bullets from his comrades.
The soldier was found on the south side of the border village of Panmunjom, about 50 meters south of the Military Demarcation Line, wounded in his shoulder and elbow, according to a South Korean defense ministry official.
He defected from a North Korean guard post nearby and was being treated in hospital.
“The defector was urgently transferred to hospital in a helicopter of the United Nations Command, and there was no exchange of fire with our side,” the ministry official told Reuters.
The soldier was shot five times, in the buttocks, armpit, back, shoulder and knee. Originally, it was thought these wounds were not life threatening. However, the current prognosis is more grim, as South Korean doctors have discovered that the man is severely malnourished and his body is riddled with worms.
Parasitic worms have been found in a North Korean soldier critically injured while defecting to South Korea, highlighting nutrition and hygiene problems that observers believe have plagued the isolated country for decades.
Dozens of flesh-coloured parasites, one of which was 27cm (11 inches) long, were found in the man’s digestive tract during life-saving operations, according to the lead surgeon, Lee Cook-jong.
“In my over-20-year-long career as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a textbook,” Lee said.
And while the solider may not be able to talk, his body offers some significant clues about the actual state of the North Korean army.
“Consider that, as a soldier, the man was among the elite of North Korea,” said military history expert and former Green Beret, Barry Jacobsen. “I suspect his parasite infection was the rule and not the exception, which leads me to believe that the North Korean military is really not able to wage any sort of war.”
If Kim Jong Un were counting on his nuclear weapons instead of relying on his soldiers, I suspect the collapse of the underground test site and the subsequent death 200 of his nuclear experts may have impeded those plans as well. I find it fascinating that not one test shot was lobbed while President Trump was in Asia.
Furthermore, the North Korean dictator may have caused the endemic parasite problem plaguing his military and the rest of his nation. After a chemical embargo stopped the flow of traditional fertilizers into his country, the use of human and animal waste was mandated.
The prevalence of parasitic worms causing health problems in North Korea may be the result of a personal intervention by Kim Jong Un, who urged farmers to spread human excrement on their fields to fertilize crops.
The hermit nation’s leader issued an instruction to farmers in 2014 telling them to use human faeces with animal waste and organic compost on their fields. With a lack of livestock to provide animal fertilizer, agriculturists poured the human excrement, also known as “night soil”, on their fields.
It will be interesting to see what direction President Trump, our military, and our Asian allies take in regards to North Korea in the next few weeks and months based on the recent developments.