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Captain Seok put back on respirator

The injured South Korean captain shot by Somali pirates last month was put back on a respirator early on Friday with signs of pneumonia complications, hospital officials said, one day after regaining his consciousness.

Seok Hae-kyun, the captain of the Korean freighter Samho Jewelry, sustained multiple gunshot wounds during a Jan. 21 rescue operation in the Arabian Sea and received surgery twice in Oman and once in South Korea last weekend.

Thirteen days after remaining unconscious, the 58-year-old was removed from a respirator on Thursday morning and opened his eyes at Ajou University Hospital in Suwon, south of Seoul.

After the captain had difficulty breathing at around 2:30 a.m. on Friday, he was immediately put back on the respirator and had a bronchial tube attached, and has since remained in stable condition, hospital officials said.

"Capt. Seok's condition can often occur in patients with serious external injuries. We will do our best to conduct orthopedic treatment while maintaining his air tube and respirator," hospital director Yoo Hee-seok said at a Friday morning briefing.

If signs of pneumonia and other complications persist, doctors will have to wait a couple more weeks to carry out another round of surgery on Seok. Depending on his condition in the next few days, doctors will stitch up his wounds and fix his fractured arms, Yoo said.

(Yonhap News)