After Oh’s daring escape just last week from the fascist North Korean government, where he sustained serious injuries, the government has replaced the soldiers they had guarding the border where he escaped.
“Signs were detected that North Korea has replaced all border security officials following the defection. Given this situation, commanders of the responsible military unit and senior officers might have undergone punishment,” the source was quoted as saying in an article published Thursday.
It would not be unprecedented for the North Korean regime, led by Kim Jong Un, to punish border guards for failing to prevent defections. According to the human rights organization, Amnesty International, a commander and a vice commander of a border post near China were arrested and sentenced to death in 2007 following an official investigation into North Korean defectors, many of whom flee the country over the Chinese border.
The punishment was initially seen as a possible sign of infighting among Kim’s key aides, but it could also be related to the border guards (carefully handpicked for their ideological commitment to the regime) and their inability to prevent the defection.
The three South Korean soldiers who helped Oh during his escape — 1st class sergeants Noh Yeong Soo and Song Seoung Hyeon, and deputy commander lieutenant colonel Kwon Young Hwan—crawled to his rescue. They were among six servicemen who contributed to saving the defector’s life. The other three were American soldiers: sergeant Robert Hartfield, major Jeffery Schmidt and lieutenant colonel Matthew Farmer. All six were awarded a medal on Thursday.
“In recognition for their efforts in rescuing a North Korean defector, Nov.13, General Vincent K. Brooks, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea commander, awarded Joint Security Area soldiers the Army Commendation medal,” a post shared on the U.S. Forces Korea Facebook page read.