Military.com reports that six US and South Korean Soldiers received the Army Commendation Medal on Thursday for rescuing the North Korean defector who bolted for freedom on November 13. The ceremony took place at Camp Bonifas as the men were preparing for Thanksgiving dinner. The medals were awarded by Gen. Vincent Brooks, head of United Nations Command and U.S. Forces Korea.
As we reported previously, the defector ran towards freedom, and the North Koreans opened fire. He was shot 5 times. Doctors say he has regained consciousness and will likely survive his ordeal, in spite of his body being riddled with bullets and parasites. The men who received the medals were credited with his rescue.
“Your actions resulted in saving the defector’s life and de-escalating an incident that threatened the 64-year-old armistice.” Army Commendation citation
The medals were awarded to:
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.
In the video you can see two South Korean soldiers, who were part of the JSA security battalion, crawl over to the wounded North Korean and drag him to safety.
In case you missed it, here is the video of the daring escape:
Same video with explanations:
The United Nations Command stated that the North Koreans violated the Armistice agreement by firing across the border, and even crossing it physically at one point.
According to Stars and Stripes, over 30,000 orth Koreans have defected since the end of the Korean War. But they rarely attempt to cross the DMZ, (Demilitarized Zone) which is one of the most heavily fortified areas in the world. The 2.5 Mile wide, 150 mile long strip is dotted with land mines and barbed wire…a formidable challenge for defectors. There there’s the hundreds of thousands of armed soldiers that cover both sides of the zone.
The DMZ is also a popular tourist spot (why we have no idea). Communication with the hermit kingdom is nonexistant and even tourists to the area are at great risk if they step out of bounds. In 2008, North Korean soldiers opened fire on a tourist, killing him for stepping in the wrong place, according to the National Geographic.
“Because we have no communication whatsoever, it’s very hard for North Korean citizens to have a positive impression of the rest of the world. All they know is what their government tells them. The vast majority still think that [Americans] started the war and that we’re evil.” Walter Keats, president of Asia Pacific Travel
Featured photo via USFK- US Forces Korea