Senior North Korean diplomat defected to South

25 Janvier, 2021, 17:15 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • South Korean guard post

Ryu Hyun-woo, North Korea's acting ambassador in Kuwait, has allegedly defected to South Korea, according to Tae Yong-ho, a North Korean defector himself who formerly was Pyongyang's deputy ambassador to Britain prior to fleeing to South Korea and being elected as a lawmaker there.

Mr Ryu defected to South Korea last September, according to Tae Yong Ho, who was North Korea's deputy ambassador to Britain before settling in the South in 2016 and being elected as a lawmaker past year. The Yonhap news agency confirmed Ryu had defected but said it could not confirm the timing.

About 30,000 North Koreans have fled repression and poverty under the communist regime and settled in the capitalist South, mostly by first secretly crossing over the porous border with China.

Ryu Hyun-woo, who had served as the embassy's charge d'affaires since Ambassador So Chang-sik was expelled from Kuwait after a United Nations resolution was adopted in 2017, entered South Korea, along with his family, according to the source.

This development comes several months after the flight of Jo Song-gil, North Korea's acting ambassador to Italy, who vanished from the embassy together with his wife only to reemerge in South Korea.

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Ryu reportedly made a decision to defect to the South for the sake of the future of his children.

According to reports, Mr Ryu is the son-in-law of Jon Il Chun, the former head of Office 39, which manages the secret funds of the North Korean leadership.

Mr Tae Yong-ho, another high-profile defector who fled his post as North Korea's deputy ambassador to Britain in 2016 and was elected a South Korean opposition MP past year, described Mr Ryu as part of Pyongyang's "core elite".

The North has tightened border security as part of its defences against the coronavirus and the number of defectors plunged in 2020.

But Tae said leader Kim Jong Un "will not be able to stop North Koreans who long for freedom from going to South Korea forever".

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