A South Korean soldier talks with a surgeon at a hospital where a North Korean soldier who defected to the South after being shot and wounded by the North Korean military is hospitalized, in Suwon, South Korea, November 13, 2017. Hong Ki-won/Yonhap via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. - RC14369AA1F0

An experienced South Korean surgeon operating on a defector from North Korea has described his shock upon finding dozens of unusual parasites inside the man’s stomach, suggesting widespread health issues among the population of the secretive state.
The patient, who has not been named, was critically injured as he fled North Korea under a hail of bullets fired from his former comrades through the Joint Security Area (JSA) at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) border area between the two countries on Monday. Doctor Lee Guk-jong has now operated twice on the man to treat his injuries, with the presence of parasites adding complications to the surgery.
“We are struggling with treatment as we found a large number of parasites in the soldier’s stomach, invading and eating into the wounded areas,” Lee said at a press briefing following a three-and-a-half-hour operation on Wednesday, quoted in the Korea Biomedical Review. 
Keep up with this story and …
READ MORE ON NEWSWEEK.COM