North Korea 'building ballistic missile submarine'

   READY FOR WAR US warships are conducting drills off the coast of Japan

A North Korean soldier shot multiple times while defecting to the South is in a stable condition but riddled with parasites that could complicate his chances of survival, his doctor said on Thursday.

"In my over 20-year-long career as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a textbook", lead surgeon Lee Cook-jong said in a press briefing on Wednesday, Reuters reports.

North Korea's rapid progress in developing nuclear weapons and missiles has fueled a surge in regional tension and United Nations -led sanctions appear to have failed to bite deeply enough to change its behavior.

But the case of this defector stands above the others - his small intestine is ruptured, contaminated with fecal matter, and infected with parasites, Lee told the Review.

The Asean statement said the growing tension between the U.S. and North Korea should be resolved through a "peaceful" approach, thus, appealed that the two nations exercise "self-restraint" and start non-adversarial dialogue.

An article in the Korea Biomedical Review (KBR) explains that the soldier underwent two rounds of surgery at Ajou University hospital.

     USS RONALD REAGAN The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is permanently stationed in Japan
GETTY USS RONALD REAGAN The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier is permanently stationed in Japan

The defector crossed the demilitarised zone earlier this week, but was shot several times by North Korean border guards as he ran across the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom to the South Korean side. North Korea has not commented on the defection.

Parasites are reportedly widespread in North Korea and can often be the result of consuming vegetables fertilised with human faeces. Inside the soldier's gut, they also found corn, a staple grain of the North Korean diet.

Pentagon chief spokeswoman Dana White, however, said that "it's perilous to predict anything about what North Korea does or doesn't do, but we're continuing to monitor the situation".

North Korea's last missile test was on September 15 but Lee and Yun did not seem to put much emphasis on the lull, Yonhap said, as they were unable to gauge its intentions.

About one in four North Korean children grow to be shorter than their South Korean counterparts, according to the World Food Programme. "The parasite infection problem seems to be serious even if it does not represent the entire North Korean population".

"The main issue in DPRK [the Democratic People's Republic of Korea] is a monotonous diet, mainly rice or maize, kimchi and bean paste, lacking in essential fats and protein", WFP said.

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