A North Korean soldier who defected to South Korea, survived a hail of bullets but now faces another serious problem: giant, parasitic worms living in his intestines. Doctors in South Korea found dozens of worms measuring up to 11 inches long while doing surgery to repair the soldier's severe injuries from gunshot wounds.
During his escape, the unidentified soldier drove a jeep across one of the most heavily armed areas between the North and South Korea border. His own troops opened fire on him, striking him at least five times, according to published reports. The soldier was found bleeding about 55 yards south of the border, and a United States Black Hawk military helicopter was used to transport him to a hospital near Seoul. He was listed in stable condition following a series of surgeries, Fox News reported.
The soldier's escape was described as one of the most dramatic defections in years, according to the New York Times.
Parasites blamed on dire living conditions
Parasites, bad nutrition and poor hygiene can lead to intestinal worm infestations, doctors told The Times. The solider suffered from the parasites even though North Korean troops at the typically receive "priority food rationing." Due to living conditions, it's possible that other North Koreans are infected with similar intestinal parasites. Another factor is that human feces is used to fertilize fields in North Korea.
It’s not the first time defectors were found to be infected with worms. According to reports, South Korean doctors found parasitic worm infections in seven female defectors in 2014.
A famine in the 1990s killed "more than a million people" and prompted more than 30,000 North Koreans to defect to South Korea, The Times reported.
What the doctor said
“We have found dozens of fully grown parasitic worms in his damaged intestines,’’ said Dr. Lee Cook-jong, a lead surgeon. “It was a serious parasitic infection.