North Korean defector reportedly confessed committing a crime 'that led to a death'

  • The North Korean defector whose escape was caught on video has reportedly confessed to a crime "that led to a death."
  • Intelligence officials have publicly denied that a statement had been made.
  • Although the defector appears to be recovering, government sources say that his testimony has been shifting depending on his mood.


The 24-year-old North Korean defector who successfully made it across the North Korean border and into South Korea under a hail of gunfire was reportedly involved in a crime "that led to a death," according to South Korean intelligence officials cited in Donga Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, on Tuesday.

Chung-sung Oh reportedly confessed to the alleged crime, according to intelligence officials who are investigating his background as part of the standard procedure involving North Korean defectors. The National Intelligence Service, the primary intelligence agency in the country, was said to be looking into all circumstances of the alleged death, including whether it was a murder or an accidental death.

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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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A reporter from Chosun Ilbo, another South Korean news organization, also said he received a similar unconfirmed report in December, in which Oh is believed to have been involved in a vehicle accident involving another person and may have defected in fear of being punished.

Oh, who has been recovering after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds, is said to have a carefree personality, according to government sources. But those sources noted that his testimony seemed to change depending on his mood. The investigation is expected to extend beyond February.

If reports of Oh's statement proves to be true, it could complicate the proceedings and exclude him from benefits for North Korean defectors, according to the South Korean newspaper. But because the government does not have an extradition treaty with North Korea, Oh does not appear to be at risk of being sent back to the North.

Meanwhile, South Korean intelligence officials have publicly denied Oh's testimony and said those involved with the matter had "never made a statement of that kind."

The Ministry of Unification, the government body responsible for inter-Korean relations, said that it could not confirm the account because the investigation was still ongoing.

News surrounding Oh has become a hot-button subject in Korea after footage of his dramatic escape in November was captured in stunning detail. Following Oh's rescue, those involved in the recovery, including his physician, have been the center of media attention in the country.

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