- Jung Yeon-Je/Reuters
- A North Korean border-guard who defected to the South has given his first interview to media since crossing in November 2017
- Oh Chong Song, 25, said that 80% of young people in North Korea aren’t loyal to Kim Jong Un at all.
- He gave an interview to Japanese language newspaper Sankei Shimbun, published on Friday.
- Oh also spoke about his escape, where his former comrades shot him at least five times.
- Oh said: “If they don’t shoot, they will be severely punished. If I were in their position I would have shot me too.”
A North Korean border guard who defected in 2017 has given his first interview a year after his bullet-ridden escape, and he says most young people in the country aren’t loyal to Kim Jong Un.
On November 13, 2017, Oh Chong Song made the dash through Panmunjom (“Truce Village”) in the demilitarized zone near the South Korean border, taking heavy fire from his colleagues, sustaining at least five bullet wounds, but ultimately surviving.
In an interview with Japanese language newspaper Sankei Shimbun on Friday the 25-year-old spoke about his escape and his memories of North Korea.
He said: “People my age, about 80% of them are indifferent and they don’t feel loyal towards [Kim.]”
Oh said: “Not being able to feed the people properly – but the hereditary succession keeps going on – that results in indifference and no loyalty.”
In the interview Oh, who joined the North Korean army in 2010, said he is now a “new person with a new name” living in South Korea. He said he has “no regrets about defecting,” the paper quotes him as saying.
Speaking openly about his escape, and his comrades opening fire on him as he fled, Oh said: “If they don’t shoot, they will be severely punished. If I were in their position I would have shot me too.”
The South Korean doctor who saved Oh from death said he was “a broken jar. We couldn’t put enough blood into him,” the interview quoted him as saying, referring to at least five bullet wounds Oh got during the escape.
The article reports that Oh started drinking on the night of his escape after an unspecified altercation with friends, and he decided to head for the border. The village is the only place where troops from both sides come face-to-face.
He said in the interview there was no turning back. “I feared I could be executed if I went back so I crossed the border,” he said.
The paper shared a video of the interview on their YouTube page, only showing Oh’s hand and torso while he speaks about his escape: