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(LEAD) 'Korean Houdini' nabbed after six days on the run

All Headlines 23:48 September 22, 2012

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with more details and photo; CHANGES headline)

DAEGU, Sept. 22 (Yonhap) -- A robbery suspect who earned the nickname "Korean Houdini" after breaking out of prison through a very narrow cell window was nabbed Saturday after six days on the run, police said.

Choi Gab-bok, 50, was caught on the rooftop of an apartment building in Milyang, 386 kilometers southeast of Seoul, earlier in the day, said Daegu's Dongbu Police Station. Milyang is about 30 kilometers south from Daegu.

Upon a tipoff from a villager in Milyang, police raided an apartment building and arrested the suspect hiding in a cardboard box on rooftop, police officials said.

Choi, with a lean body, had escaped a police jail in Daegu last Monday. He reportedly applied a type of salve all over his body before squeezing through a 15-centimeter-high, 45-centimeter-wide food slot in the bars of a detention cell at the Daegu police station around 5 a.m. on Sept. 17, while all three police officers on duty slept. The story of the Houdini-style breakout has gripped the nation throughout this week.

A police investigator who reviewed footage from a prison surveillance camera told reporters that Choi who is 165 centimeters tall and weighs 52 kilograms escaped from the prison cell in less than a minute after moving flexibly like an octopus. Choi, who was initially detained on Sept. 12 on robbery charges, is known as a yoga master after improving his physical fitness during previous detentions totaling 23 years, according to his acquaintances and investigators.

On being arrested again, Choi insisted that he escaped to prove his innocence.

Officials at the Daegu police station said Choi was detained this time in a cell with a far smaller food slot measuring 11 cm in height and 102.5 cm in width.


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