Surgeons find never-before-seen parasite in body of defector who was shot 5 times while escaping North Korea

Surgeons find never-before-seen parasite in body of defector who was shot 5 times while escaping North Korea

North Korea Soldier Panmunjom DMZ


A North Korean soldier looks south through a pair of binoculars on the North side at the "Truce Village" of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone, which separates the two Koreas, in Paju, north of Seoul, about 55 km (34 miles) north of Seoul April 13, 2013.

  • The North Korean defector who was shot five times while running across the border to South Korea has been found riddled with parasites, one of which has never before been seen in the country.
  • North Korean defectors often come over to South Korea with parasites, once with more than 30 types of ringworm in a single defector.

South Korean surgeons operating on a North Korean defector who ran across the demilitarized border zone between the two countries under a hail of gunfire have found a previously unknown parasite in the man's stomach.

The defector, who was shot five times, remains in critical condition after two rounds and hours of surgery, according to Korea Biomedical Review.

"We are struggling with treatment as we found a large number of parasites in the soldier's stomach, invading and eating into the wounded areas," Lee Guk-jong, the physician who treated him told the Review.

"We have also discovered a parasite never seen in Koreans before. It is making the situation worse and causing tremendous complications," Lee said.


It's unclear if the parasite has been seen in other parts of the world.

According to the Review, North Korean defectors often come to South Korea riddled with parasites, with one patient having more than 30 types of roundworms living in her body. Lee said the problem is common in defectors he treats, but may not represent the North Korean population as a whole.

But the case of the defector stands above the others.

The defector's small intestine is ruptured, contaminated with fecal matter, and infected with parasites, Lee told the Review.

"He has everything that he could have," Lee said. "It is very likely that the prognosis will be worse than other general trauma patients as he has been in a state of shock induced by heavy bleeding and we expect to deal with many complications."