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The individual reportedly drove a vehicle near the military demarcation line — the border separating both Koreas — on Monday and proceeded to run towards the South Korean side, attracting a hail of gunfire from North Korean guards.
The man, who is currently on life-support at a hospital near Seoul, could have been a driver for a high-level North Korean official, the Chosun Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper, reported on Thursday.
"Only drivers are allowed to operate vehicles and go to Panmunjom through the demilitarized zone," a former North Korean police officer told the Chosun Ilbo, referring to a North Korean facility in the zone.
"It looks like he was a driver for a representative of the Panmunjom delegation, a chief of staff, or a state security chief."
Footage of the defector's bold escape is expected to be revealed later on Thursday, according to the Chosun Ilbo.
Ri Jong Ho, a former senior North Korean economic official who defected in 2014, recently described the dire economic conditions presently gripping his home country, stating that he wasn't sure whether the rogue nation could survive another year under sanctions.