- The North Korean defector who made a brazen escape under a hail of gunfire last year is suspected of being involved in a vehicle accident while under the influence of alcohol.
- South Korean intelligence sources reportedly said he defected immediately after the accident.
- A report on Tuesday citing South Korean intelligence officials said the man had disclosed that he was involved in a crime “that led to a death.”
The North Korean defector who brazenly made his way across the border to South Korea under a hail of gunfire in November is suspected of involvement in an accident while he was driving under the influence, the South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo reported on Wednesday.
Citing a briefing from South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, the report says the defector, identified as 24-year-old Chung-sung Oh, had suggested to a friend that he would give a tour of Panmunjom in November.
Oh, who was previously reported to be a driver for the North Korean military, is believed to have hit a guardrail during the drive with his friend, the report said. After realizing what transpired, Oh is said to have begun his escape across the border.
Citing South Korean intelligence officials, the Ilbo reported on Tuesdaythat Oh had said he was involved in an incident “that led to a death.”
A reporter from Chosun Ilbo, another South Korean news organization, said he received a similar unconfirmed report in December that Oh was believed to have been involved in a vehicle accident involving another person and may have defected because he feared punishment.
Other South Korean officials have pushed back on the reports of Oh’s statement. If they are true, though, it could complicate the proceedings and exclude him from benefits given to North Korean defectors, according to Dong-A Ilbo. But because the government does not have an extradition treaty with North Korea, Oh does not appear to be at risk of being sent back.