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North Korean senior military official defects, South Korea says

Seoul, South Korea (CNN)A senior intelligence officer with the North Korean military has defected to South Korea, South Korean officials said on Monday.

The defector was a senior colonel with the North Korean Reconnaissance General Bureau, which is in charge of espionage operations against South Korea, according to South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun and Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee.

Speaking in separate press conferences, the ministry spokesmen confirmed that reports on the defection by South Korea's semi-official Yonhap News Agency were accurate, but said they could give no further details.

North Korea's Reconnaissance General Bureau is a powerful body, responsible for handling clandestine operations, including espionage against foreign countries and cyber-warfare operations.

Last week, 13 North Korean nationals who had been working at a Pyongyang-owned restaurant in an unnamed Asian nation defected to South Korea, officials in Seoul announced. They said they had defected after "feeling pressure from North Korean authorities" to send foreign currency back to their homeland, officials said.

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