The North Korean defector who defied the odds and dashed to freedom across the heavily guarded de-militarized zone is ravaged by giant parasitic worms, report South Korean doctors treating the soldier who was shot five times during his race across the border.
According to the BBC, surgeons and medical personnel at the hospital where the unidentified man is receiving life-saving treatment say they haven’t seen “anything like” this in nearly two decades.
“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 20 years as a physician,” South Korean doctor Lee Cook-jong told reporters, saying one of the worms found in the defector’s intestines was nearly one foot long.
The soldier’s health raises serious questions over the state of North Korea’s medical system and the overall well-being of the nation.
“North Korea is a very poor country and like any other poor country it has serious health problems,” a professor in Seoul told the BBC. “North Korea does not have the resources to have a modern medical system […] Its doctors are relatively poorly trained and have to work with primitive equipment.”
Authorities believe the North Korean practice of using human manure, commonly referred to as “night soil,” for vegetable and fruit crops as the likely cause for the parasites. Animal-waste in the communist nation is scarce as livestock populations dwindle under harsh economic sanctions and misguided government policies.