SEOUL (Reuters) – A North Korean soldier who suffered critical gunshot wounds during a defection dash this week over the border with South Korea was being operated upon for a second time early on Wednesday, the hospital treating him said.
The soldier, whose rank and identity have not been disclosed, was flown by helicopter to hospital on Monday after his escape to South Korea, during which he was fired on by four North Korean soldiers.
“He is undergoing a second round of operations and we can’t reach the operating room as they are working on him,” a spokeswoman at Ajou University Hospital told Reuters by telephone, seeking anonymity because of security concerns.
The hospital will brief media on the soldier’s condition at 0630 GMT, she said, without providing details.
On Tuesday, government and military officials had said the soldier was in critical condition, following gunshot-induced trauma to his inner organs, but doctors expected him to live.
North Korea has remained silent on the issue, while no unusual activity has been detected at its border with the South where the soldier defected, the South’s Unification Ministry said.
“There will need to be some questioning on why he defected after his treatment is over,” ministry spokesman Baik Tae-hyun told a regular briefing.
Reporting by Christine Kim and Yuna Park; Editing by Clarence Fernandez