The North Korean soldier who defected to South Korea last month lived a hard life and was forced to eat corn fertilized with human feces. It’s "a miracle that he survived,” said Dr. Lee Cook-Jong in an interview with CNN.
24-year-old Oh Chong Sung was shot 5 times after he drove a military vehicle through a checkpoint without stopping and into the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates North Korea from South Korea on Nov. 15.
Surveillance video shows North Korean soldiers chasing Oh then firing at him as he made a desperate dash into South Korea.
The critically wounded soldier was airlifted to the trauma center run by Lee at the Ajou University Hospital in Seoul.
“His vital signs were so unstable, he was dying of low blood pressure, he was dying of shock,” Lee told the news station. “He was like a broken jar. We couldn’t put enough blood in him.”
Lee described cutting the soldier open to remove a bullet and seeing worms squirming from the incision site. Some of the worms were more than 10 inches long.
"In my over 20 year-long career as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a textbook," Lee said.
“Everything was stained with blood, but the parasite was basically a really white color and this thick, big long and very, very hard, this kind of thing was getting out from his bowel system,” the surgeon said.
Oh is walking and talking but he is not out of the woods yet. He is still recovering from the lung infection tuberculosis and hepatitis B, a viral infection transmitted via contact with blood or other bodily fluids.
Lee says Oh comforts himself by hanging a large South Korean flag in his hospital room.
“He actually asked me, ‘is it really South Korea?’ And I said, ‘have a look at that flag. Have you ever seen that flag in North Korea?’" Lee said.
North Korean citizens living in rural areas subsist on corn grown in dirt fertilized by human feces. Due to the lack of livestock, animal waste is hard to come by.
In 2014, supreme leader Kim Jong Un urged farmers to fertilize with human feces despite the risk of worms and parasites.
After Oh's defection, North Korean soldiers dug a deep trench at the DMZ site to make it more difficult for citizens to cross over into the south.