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US, South Korean Troops Honored For Saving Wounded North Korean Defector [VIDEO]

FILE PHOTO: South Korea and U.S. soldiers stand guard during a commemorative ceremony for the 64th anniversary of the Korean armistice at the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jung Yeon-Je/PoolFILE PHOTO: South Korea and U.S. soldiers stand guard during a commemorative ceremony for the 64th anniversary of the Korean armistice at the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Jung Yeon-Je/Pool

Six U.S. and South Korean soldiers were awarded medals Thursday for rescuing a North Korean soldier who defected at the Demilitarized Zone last week.

A 24-year-old North Korean staff sergeant surnamed Oh made a desperate dash into South Korea at the Joint Security Area at the DMZ last Monday, first in a jeep and then on foot. He was shot multiple times by his comrades as he ran into South Korea, where he collapsed in a pile of leaves. Allied troops came to his aid. He was airlifted to a South Korean medical facility, where he is currently receiving treatment. Had U.S. and South Korean troops not rescued him, he might not be alive today.

Gen. Vincent Brooks, head of United Nations Command and U.S. Forces Korea, awarded the six soldiers an Army commendation medal in recognition of their heroic efforts at a ceremony at Camp Bonifas, according to Stars and Stripes. In addition to honoring them for saving a defector, he praised them for their calm response to North Korean armistice violations.

“Your actions resulted in saving the defector’s life and de-escalating an incident that threatened the 64-year-old armistice,” Brooks stressed at the ceremony.

The six U.S. and South Korean soldiers who were honored for their meritorious service at the border were Sgt. 1st Class Noh Yeong Soo, Sgt. 1st Class Song Seoung Hyeon, Sgt. Robert Hartfield, Maj. Jeffery Schmidt, Lt. Col. Kwon Young Hwan, and Lt. Col. Matthew Farmer.

For the North Korean border guards and their commanding officers who failed to kill the soldier who dared to dream of freedom, things are reportedly less good.

“Signs were detected that North Korea has replaced all border security officials following the defection,” a South Korean intelligence source told Yonhap News Agency, adding, “Given this situation, commanders of the responsible military unit and senior officers might have undergone punishment.”

The North has apparently closed certain transportation routes to the JSA, and it is currently tightly screening who enters the area. The latest defection seems to have rattled the North.

Watch: North Korean Soldier Makes His Escape At The DMZ

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Ryan Pickrell
the authorRyan Pickrell
Holds a PhD in International Relations, fluent in Mandarin Chinese, reports on China and the Asia Pacific.

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