10-inch Parasite Suggests Disturbing North Korean Practices

10-inch worm found in defector’s stomach; world renowned surgeon had never seen anything like it before …

(SOFIA LOTTO PERSIO, NEWSWEEK) A top 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.

This specific type of parasite reveals disturbing lifestyle practices in North Korea.

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.

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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.

The doctor described the patient as 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 132 pounds, suggesting he may suffer from malnutrition.

Among the parasites was a species of roundworm that can be contracted by eating vegetables fertilized with human feces or, more generally, in areas with poor sanitation.

The longest parasite found in the North Korean soldiers’ stomach measured 27 centimetres (10 inches), local media reported. Experts say that many North Koreans could be infected with the same kind of parasites.

“I have been doing surgery for more than 20 years, but I have not seen such parasites. I will not be able to find them in [South] Korea,” said Lee, who is a respected trauma specialist in the country.

He previously successfully treated the captain of the South Korean chemical freighter Samho Jewelry who was shot six times when his vessel was seized by Somali pirates in 2011. Read the full story at Newsweek.