N. Korean soldier defector regains consciousness: report

South Korean doctor Lee Cook-Jong, who carried out surgery on gunshot wounds sustained by a North Korean soldier, speaks about his condition during a briefing on November 15

A North Korean soldier who was shot by his own side and severely injured while dashing across the border into South Korea has regained consciousness, a report said Tuesday.

The defector is awake after undergoing two major operations at a hospital in Suwon just south of Seoul, according to an unidentified government official quoted by Yonhap news agency.

"The soldier has regained consciousness and he requested to watch television," the official was quoted as saying, adding he was being shown South Korean movies for his "psychological comfort".

The defector ran across the border at the Panmunjom truce village on November 13 as former comrades from the North opened fire on him, hitting him at least four times.

He was pulled to safety by three South Korean soldiers who crawled to reach him just south of the dividing line.

It is very rare for the North's troops to defect at Panmunjom, a major tourist attraction and the only part of the border where forces from the two sides come face-to-face.

The patient was now able to express his thoughts to medical staff, the official said.

To allay his fears and reassure him he was indeed in the South, medical staff apparently placed a South Korean flag in his room and were also using psychotherapy.

In addition to his gunshot injuries, the defector was found to be riddled with intestinal parasites, an apparent result of poor food hygiene in the impoverished North.

Depending on medical advice, an interrogation team is expected to question him in four or five days' time, according to the official.

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