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Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Such parasitic worms found in the stomach of the North Korean soldier forced him to defect under the hail of bullets to the South

Such parasitic worms found in the stomach of the North Korean soldier forced him to defect under the hail of bullets to the South

The North Korean defector had parasitic worm in his stomach 

Has the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, neglected the country's health system in pursuit of a costly ballistic missile project? The recent health condition of the defector reveals the bad health state of the North Koreans.

Reuters report that - Dozens of parasites and corn kernels found in a man shot as he fled to South Korea, hinting at the extent of malnutrition in North.

Parasitic worms have been found in a North Korean soldier critically injured while defecting to South Korea, highlighting nutrition and hygiene problems that observers believe have plagued the isolated country for decades.

Dozens of flesh-colored parasites, one of which was 27cm (11 inches) long, were found in the man’s digestive tract during life-saving operations, according to the lead surgeon, Lee Cook-jong.

“In my over-20-year-long career as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a textbook,” Lee said.

The parasites, along with kernels of corn in his stomach, appear to confirm what many experts and defectors have said about the food and hygiene situation for many North Koreans.

Prof Choi Min-ho of Seoul National University’s college of medicine said: “Although we do not have solid figures showing health conditions of North Korea, medical experts assume that parasite infection problems and serious health issues have been prevalent in the country.

“[The man’s condition is] not surprising at all considering the North’s hygiene and parasite problems.”

The soldier was flown to hospital by helicopter on Monday after his escape to South Korea under fire from North Korean soldiers.

He is believed to be an army staff sergeant in his mid-20s who was stationed in the Joint Security Area in the UN truce village of Panmunjom, said Kim Byung-kee from South Korea’s ruling Democratic party. North Korea has not commented on the defection.

While the contents of the defector’s stomach do not necessarily reflect the wider population, his status as a soldier with an elite assignment suggests he would at least be as well nourished as an average North Korean.

The hospital that treated him said he had been shot in his buttocks, armpit, back, shoulder and knee, and sustained other wounds.

Parasitic worms were also common in South Korea between 40 and 50 years ago, Lee said, but disappeared as economic conditions improved.

Their continued prevalence in North Korea could be linked to the use of human excrement as fertilizer, often referred to as night soil.

Lee Min-bok, a North Korean agriculture expert, said: “Chemical fertilizer was supplied by the state until the 1970s, but from the early 1980s, production started to decrease.

“By the 1990s, the state could not supply it anymore, so farmers started to use a lot of night soil instead.”

Doctors said the soldier’s height was 1.7 meters (5ft 7in) and his weight 60kg (9st 6lb). Use of the corn found in his stomach, which is cheaper than rice but less popular, has increased in years when North Koreans are more worried about harvests.

Between January and September, China exported nearly 49,000 tonnes of corn to North Korea, compared with 3,125 tonnes in 2016, according to figures from Beijing.

About one in four North Korean children grow to be shorter than their South Korean counterparts, according to the World Food Programme. A study in 2009 found preschool children in the North were up to 13cm shorter and up to 7kg lighter than those brought up in the South.

One-quarter of North Korean children aged between six months and five years who attend nurseries the WFP supports suffer from chronic malnutrition, it said.

“The main issue in DPRK [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is a monotonous diet, mainly rice or maize, kimchi and bean paste, lacking in essential fats and protein,” WFP said.


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