North Korea's wounded defector 'nice guy', says surgeon

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea's latest defector, a young soldier known only by his family name Oh, is a quiet, pleasant man who has nightmares about being returned to the North, his surgeon said on Thursday.

"He's a pretty nice guy," said lead surgeon John Cook-Jong Lee, who has been operating and caring for the 24-year-old. Oh has become a focus of worldwide attention after he was badly wounded by fellow North Korean soldiers as he scrambled across the border in the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South on Nov. 13.

Video of Oh's escape released on Wednesday showed him stumbling over the border and being dragged unconscious through the undergrowth by South Korean troops.

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North Korean soldier's defection across the DMZ
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North Korean soldier's defection across the DMZ
A CCTV footage shows a North Korean soldier crossing the white Military Demarcation Line during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of the soldier� defection, at the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul in this still image taken from a Reuters TV video, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
United Nations Command spokesman Colonel Chad G. Carroll shows a surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, during a press briefing at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A CCTV footage shows a North Korean soldier crossing the white Military Demarcation Line during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of the soldier� defection, at the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul in this still image taken from a Reuters TV video, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
United Nations Command spokesman Colonel Chad G. Carroll shows a surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, during a press briefing at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
REFILE- QUALITY REPEAT A CCTV footage shows the heat signatures of a North Korean soldier (centre L) lying injured on the ground after he was shot while crossing into South Korea, as South Korean soldiers (centre R) approach him; during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of a North Korean soldier� defection, at the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul in this still image taken from a Reuters TV video, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
A surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, is seen during a press briefing by the United Nations Command at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A CCTV footage shows a vehicle carrying a North Korean soldier during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of the soldier� defection, at the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul in this still image taken from a Reuters TV video, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
A CCTV footage shows a North Korean soldier running from a vehicle during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of the soldier� defection, at the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul in this still image taken from a Reuters TV video, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
United Nations Command spokesman Colonel Chad G. Carroll shows a surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, during a press briefing at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
United Nations Command spokesman Colonel Chad G. Carroll shows a surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, during a press briefing at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A CCTV footage shows a North Korean soldier running during a United Nations Command (UNC) briefing on the investigation results of the soldier� defection, at the South Korean defence ministry in Seoul in this still image taken from a Reuters TV video, November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Reuters TV
United Nations Command spokesman Colonel Chad G. Carroll shows a surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, during a press briefing at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A North Korean guard post (C) in the border county of Kaepoong is seen from a South Korean observation post in Paju near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas on November 14, 2017. A North Korean soldier involved in an extremely rare and dramatic defection to the South was shot six times by his own side as he drove to the heavily guarded border and ran across under a hail of bullets. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
A surveillance TV footage containing the moment of defection of a North Korean Soldier, is seen during a press briefing by the United Nations Command at the Defence Ministry in Seoul on November 22, 2017. A North Korean soldier crossed the border into the South in breach of a 1953 armistice agreement as he pursued a defector who was shot last week, the US-led United Nations Command (UNC) said on November 22. / AFP PHOTO / JUNG Yeon-Je (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
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Surgeon Lee has been almost the only person to speak with Oh since he arrived at the hospital, he told Reuters in an interview at his office at Ajou University Hospital, just a few floors away from where the defector lies guarded by South Korean special forces and intelligence officers.

The surgeon, who has hung a South Korean flag in the soldier's room, said he is avoiding subjects that may disturb his patient. Oh is eating his first "clear liquid" food such as broths, and can smile, talk, and use his hands, Lee said. But when his patient woke on Sunday he cried out in pain, and Lee said he is still anxious about the South Korean guards.

Lee said Oh told him that he had joined the North Korean army when he was 17, right after secondary school graduation. The soldier's hair is styled "like a jarhead, like a U.S. Marine, so I actually joked 'why don't you join the South Korean Marines?' He smiled and said that he would never ever go back to the military system again." 

Medical teams have worked for days to remove the shards of at least four bullets from Oh's body, stitch up his shredded organs, and treat pre-existing conditions including tuberculosis, hepatitis B and a case of massive intestinal worms, Lee said.

"He's a quite strong man," said Lee.

Since Oh's defection, North Korea appeared to have replaced all its security guards on the border, an intelligence source in the South told Yonhap news agency on Thursday.

RELATED: Kim Jong Un visiting farms in North Korea

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Kim Jong Un visiting farms and agricultural businesses in North Korea
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Kim Jong Un visiting farms and agricultural businesses in North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides field guidance to Farm No. 1116 under KPA Unit 810, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 13, 2016. KCNA/via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a Farm No. 1116 of KPA Unit 810 in this September 29, 2017 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a Farm No. 1116 of KPA Unit 810 in this September 29, 2017 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un visited the Thaechon Pig Farm of the Air and Anti-Air Force of the Korean People's Army in this undated handout photo by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) made available on April 23, 2017. KCNA/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on August 18, 2016. KCNA/ via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the May 9 Catfish Farm in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang December 12, 2015.REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang August 19, 2015. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. XX in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang XX YY, 20ZZ. REUTERS/KCNA (NORTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R) gives field guidance at the Pyongyang Catfish Farm in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang October 31, 2015. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA
This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on December 12, 2015 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting the newly renovated May 9 catfish farm at an undisclosed location in North Korea. REPUBLIC KOREA OUT -- AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / AFP / KCNA / KNS (Photo credit should read KNS/AFP/Getty Images)
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 13, 2016 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) inspecting Farm No. 1116 under KPA Unit 810 at an undisclosed location in North Korea. / AFP / KCNA / KCNA (Photo credit should read KCNA/AFP/Getty Images)
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 30, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) visiting Farm No. 1116 under Korean People's Army (KPA) Unit 810 at an undisclosed location. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 30, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) visiting Farm No. 1116 under Korean People's Army (KPA) Unit 810 at an undisclosed location. / AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
This undated picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 21, 2017 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) visiting the Samchon catfish farm in Samchon, Hwanghaenamdo. / AFP / KCNA VIA KNS / STR / South Korea OUT / REPUBLIC OF KOREA OUT ---EDITORS NOTE--- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT 'AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS THIS PICTURE WAS MADE AVAILABLE BY A THIRD PARTY. AFP CAN NOT INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, LOCATION, DATE AND CONTENT OF THIS IMAGE. THIS PHOTO IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY AFP. / (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Taedonggang Combined Fruit Farm in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on August 18, 2016. KCNA/ via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the Pyongyang Terrapin Farm in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on July 6, 2016. KCNA/ via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits Farm No. 1116, under KPA (Korean People's Army) Unit 810, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on June 1, 2015. KCNA via Reuters/File Photo ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
North Korean leader Kim Jung-un visits the May 27th and January 8th fishery stations, which made an unprecedented catch of fishes, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on November 17, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to the Jangchon Vegetable Co-op Farm in Sadong District, Pyongyang City, whose looks have undergone a radical change to be a model and a standard of the socialist rural cultural construction, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 30, 2015. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance to Farm No. 1116 under the Korean People's Army (KPA) Unit 810 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang August 13, 2015. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits a Mushroom Farm in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 16, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA (NORTH KOREA - Tags: AGRICULTURE POLITICS FOOD TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the July 18 Cattle Farm under Korean People's Army (KPA) Unit 580, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on May 11, 2015. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance at the 810 army unit?s Salmon farms in this undated photoreleased by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang. REUTERS/KCNA SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits a Mushroom Farm in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 16, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA (NORTH KOREA - Tags: AGRICULTURE POLITICS FOOD TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits the Kosan Fruit Farm in in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang June 5, 2013. The sign in the background reads: "North Korea will do it once we decide". REUTERS/KCNA (NORTH KOREA - Tags: AGRICULTURE POLITICS) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (L) visits vegetable greenhouses at the Songhak Co-op Farm in Anju City, South Pyongan Province, in this undated picture released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 21, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA (NORTH KOREA - Tags: POLITICS AGRICULTURE) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
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COLLAPSED LUNG

Lee said that when the defector arrived in an American military helicopter at the hospital – which is equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and is used to treat VIP visitors such as visiting U.S. presidents - he came with zero personal information.

On the flight in, American army flight medics had fought to keep Oh alive, jabbing a large needle into his chest to treat a collapsed lung.

Oh was immediately wheeled into a diagnostic room where doctors confirmed he was suffering from massive internal bleeding. "We knew then that we didn't have time to hesitate," Lee said, standing in that room Thursday night.

Two major surgeries were required to remove the bullets and patch Oh back together, and the medical team pumped as much as 12 liters of new blood into his body. The normal body has less than half as much blood.

"He told me that he is so thankful for South Koreans for saving his life and giving him that much blood," Lee said.

RELATED: Kim Jong Un observes North Korea's mid-September missile launch

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Kim Jong Un observes North Korea's mid-September missile launch
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Kim Jong Un observes North Korea's mid-September missile launch
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (not pictured) guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
Officials react after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (not pictured) guided the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (not pictured) guides the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile in this undated combination photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 16, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
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Lee has been playing South Korean pop music and American films and TV shows for his patient, but has not exposed him to any news coverage.

Among the shows, Oh showed a liking for the French-American thriller "Transporter 3," comedy "Bruce Almighty" starring Jim Carrey and Morgan Freeman and the crime-solving TV series "CSI," Lee said.

SCARS

Most North Korean defectors undergo security questioning by South Korea's intelligence agency once they arrive in the South before being sent to a resettlement center for a three-month education on life in the South. After they are released, central and local governments provide 7 million won ($6,450) in cash over a year, as well as support in housing, education and job training.

Police officers are assigned to each of the defectors to ensure their security and safety.

Even if Oh fully recovers, some scars will stay for the rest of his life, the surgeon said.

Among the longest lasting wounds will be the damage to his colon, which was shredded by a bullet and had to be stitched back together in seven places. "It's a lifelong complication for the patient, so he's better to be very cautious in his diet," said the surgeon.

Besides the potential for further medical complications, Lee says he is most worried about making sure Oh recovers psychologically. The soldier has already told him he had a nightmare about being returned to the North.

The surgeon said he has asked senior South Korean military officials who are eager to question the soldier to hold off while he recovers.

"This North Korean guy is not going anywhere," Lee said. "He is staying in South Korea. So we don't need to be hasty."

(Additional reporting by Soyoung Kim; Edited by Sara Ledwith)

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