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In mid-November, a North Korean soldier risked everything to cross the border to the south.
Fired upon by his own troops as he ran for safety and freedom in South Korea, he sustained gunshot wounds to his shoulder and his elbow. What's truly chilling is the fact that those gunshot wounds may now be the least of his worries.
The Washington Post reported:
South Korean soldiers found the defector under a pile of leaves, bleeding from at least five gunshot wounds.
He was brought to doctors, who expected to find the soldier in bad shape. But what they also found when they opened him up gave the world a glimpse into just how bad things are in North Korea.
Doctors repairing the unidentified soldier’s digestive tract found dozens of parasites in his intestines. One of the suspected roundworms was nearly a foot long.
But if things are bad for male soldiers serving in North Korea, they're horrible for women. Lee So Yeon explained that, during her 10 years of military service, she witnessed women enduring rape at the hands of male officers. And that wasn't all.
Fox News reported the following, citing BBC:
Lee So Yeon, who defected to South Korea through China, told the BBC about the 10 years she spent in the North Korean army, a period which began when she was 17. She said she served in the army between 1992 and 2001 and was never raped herself, but many of her comrades suffered sexual abuse.
"The company commander would stay in his room at the unit after hours and rape the female soldiers under his command. This would happen over and over without an end,” Lee told the BBC.
And while high stress and poor diet have been known to have an adverse effect on women's menstrual cycles, Lee said that women would go without a period for months and even years — which was better than the alternative, because women were often forced to reuse sanitary pads. Those pads could only be washed when there were no men present. And washing them — washing anything — was another obstacle:
“As a woman, one of the toughest things is that we can't shower properly,” she said, adding there wasn’t hot water and frogs and snakes ran through the shower hose — which came from a mountain stream.
It's no wonder so many are willing to risk their lives to escape.