Defecting North Korean soldier critical after escape in hail of bullets

Defecting North Korean soldier critical after escape in hail of bullets

Defecting North Korean soldier critical after escape in hail of bullets

South Korea will join three USA aircraft carrier strike groups in a joint drill scheduled for November 11 to 14, the South's military said on Friday.

The number of North Koreans defecting to South Korea in the first two-thirds of this year dropped by 13% compared with 2016.

About 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea, mostly travel via China, since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

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Seoul's foreign ministry said Yun is scheduled for talks with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon on Friday on the sidelines of an worldwide conference on disarmament, jointly hosted by the ministry and the United Nations on the resort island of Jeju.

Surgeons had removed five bullets from the soldier's body, leaving two inside, Suh added, to murmurs from lawmakers who said the soldier's escape was "right out of a movie".

They will aim to enhance combined operation and aerial strike capabilities and also display "strong will and firm military readiness to defeat any provocation by North Korea with dominant force in the event of crisis", Seoul's military said in a statement. The US has around 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea. A U.N. Command helicopter later transported him to the Ajou medical center, according to South Korean officials.

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U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun (R) answers questions from reporters following meeting with Japan and South Korea chief nuclear negotiators to talk about North Korean issues at the Iikura guest house in Tokyo, Japan April 25, 2017.

It said an investigation into Monday's event was ongoing.

North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb test on September 3, but has not launched any missiles since firing one over Japan on September 15, the longest such lull this year.

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The defection came at a time of heightened tension over North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and as President Trump wraps up a 12-day visit to Asia. In 1976, when North Korean soldiers axed two American army officers to death and the United States responded by flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ in an attempt to intimidate the North. The incident left three North Korean soldiers and one South Korean soldier dead.

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