• Kyodo

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A former North Korean soldier facing trial on molestation charges escaped Monday morning from a Tochigi Prefecture detention center but was caught about an hour later, police said.

Min Hong Gu, 41, escaped at around 10 a.m. while exercising in the yard of the detention house in Utsunomiya, but police caught him in an expressway parking area in the city at around 11 a.m.

Min, who now has South Korean nationality, is accused of molesting a 16-year-old girl in April in a department store.

He smuggled himself into Japan in October 1983 by stowing away on the Japanese freighter Fujisan Maru No. 18, which was traveling between Japan and North Korea. The government gave him special residency status in 1988.

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