South Korean military officials said yesterday (Nov. 26) that the updates go into great detail on the 24-year-old soldier’s condition and medical treatment in the South. On Nov. 13, the soldier drove to, then ran across the Demilitarized Zone separating the two countries, being hit by multiple bullets from North Korean soldiers as he did so. Defections across the border—one of the most militarized in the world—are extremely rare.
South Korea has long used loudspeakers along the North Korea border to deliver harsh words against the ruling regime in Pyongyang. Now it’s using them in a new way: to share updates on the soldier who recently made a daring defection to the South.
One recent broadcast talked about the poor health the soldier suffered even before trying to cross over. South Korean doctors found large parasitic worms in his body, pointing to the dire state of nutrition and hygiene in North Korea.
North Korea has long railed against the loudspeakers, which have also been used to blast K-pop across the border. (Balloons carrying leaflets over the border have also been a thorn in the side for Pyongyang.) The fear is that news from the outside world will spur defections by frontline soldiers.
North Korea has reportedly been fortifying its border at the point where the soldier made his escape, including by deepening a ditch where he abandoned his vehicle and proceeded to run for it. It has no control over the powerful loudspeakers, however, which can be heard not only by soldiers, but also by border residents living miles away.