Report says North Korean defector killed someone before he escaped

A North Korean soldier who made a desperate dash across the border in November escaped after causing a person’s death, a South Korean newspaper reported Tuesday, quoting an unidentified intelligence official.

According to the report in newspaper Dong-A, the confession came from Oh Chung Sung—or Oh Chong Song, depending on the translation—over the course of a routine interrogation led by the South Korean spy agency.

The South Korean Ministry of Unification did not confirm the reports. “The investigation has not been completed yet,” a ministry spokesperson told reporters at a press conference, quoted in South Korean news agency Yonhap. “We cannot confirm specific details of the incident.”

Should investigators find that Oh, who was identified as the son of a high-ranking military official, was involved in a crime such as murder or manslaughter, he may lose some of the privileges and the protections usually awarded to North Korean defectors. But as there is no extradition agreement between the two countries, he’ll likely be allowed to stay in South Korea.

Oh crossed the border area between North and South Korea on November 13, surviving several gunshot wounds inflicted by his former comrades who chased him across the Joint Security Area, firing at him. He was rescued and airlifted to the private Ajou University Hospital, where he underwent two rounds of surgeries and blood transfusions. Doctors also diagnosed him with a parasitic infection and hepatitis B.


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  1. Update January 24 – According to the South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo, Chung-sung Oh is suspected of involvement in an accident while he was driving under the influence. He had apparently been giving a friend a tour of Panmunjom and hit a guardrail during the drive. After realizing his friend had died, Oh is said to have begun his escape across the border.

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