Doctors in South Korea have confirmed that a defector from the North who was shot while fleeing across the border has an ‘enormous’ number of parasitic worms in his intestines.
The unnamed soldier was shot by North Korean guards on Monday as he fled through the demilitarised zone which separates the two countries, who remain technically at war.
However the doctors treating the man say that his condition is being exacerbated by an ‘enormous number’ of worms in his body which are contaminating his wounds.
South Korean doctor Lee Cook-jong told journalists that the biggest worm removed from the man’s intestines was 27cm long, explaining he had never seen anything like it.
The condition of the soldier is thought to give an insight into the continued economic and health problems facing the impoverished, but secretive dictatorship.
Parasites can enter the body via contaminated food, which in the case of North Koreans is thought to come from the human faces which is still use in the country as fertiliser.
Defections are still relatively rare, as the North Koreans cultivate a cult of personality around their leader Kim Jong-un.