N. Korea Deputy Ambassador in UK Defects to South

تم نشره في Wed 17 August / Aug 2016. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Wed 17 August / Aug 2016. 08:41 PM
  • Thae Yong Ho, North Korea’s deputy ambassador in London who has, according to media reports, defected with his family, speaks on a podium in London. Communist Party of Great Britain – (Reuters TV)

SEOUL — North Korea's deputy ambassador in London has defected with his family to South Korea, making him the highest-ranking Pyongyang diplomat ever to flee the isolated regime for the democratic South, South Korea said on Wednesday.

The Unification Ministry in Seoul declined to say when or how Thae and his family arrived, or how many relatives accompanied him.

Thae defected due to discontent with the regime of Kim Jong Un in North Korea and for the future of his child, ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee told a news conference. It was not clear in Korean whether Jeong was referring to more than one child, adding that Thae and his family were under government protection.

The announcement came a day after media report that a high-profile North Korean diplomat, later identified by the BBC as Thae, had defected.

An official at the North Korean embassy in London would not confirm the defection on Tuesday, describing reports of the event as "quite sudden".

North Korea and South Korea are technically still at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

North Korea has become increasingly isolated after conducting its fourth nuclear test in January and numerous ballistic missile launches this year, which resulted in tightened UN Security Council sanctions.