by WorldTribune Staff, August 17, 2016
A North Korean diplomat based in London has defected to South Korea.
Thae Yong-Ho, who fled the London embassy with his family, is the highest-ranking diplomat ever to defect from North Korea to the democratic South, officials in Seoul said on Aug. 17.
Thae, who lived in the UK for 10 years with his wife and family, had disappeared from his home in west London several weeks ago, according to a BBC report.
“We know that Deputy Ambassador Thae is saying that his distaste for the Kim Jong-Un regime and yearning for the Republic of Korea’s free democratic system and the future of his child are motives for the defection,” South Korea Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee said.
The number of defections by North Koreans to the South this year through July totaled 814, an annual increase of 15 percent, a Unification Ministry official told Reuters.
Another recent high-profile case featured the defection of 12 waitresses at a North Korean restaurant in China who defected to South Korea earlier this year.
The waitresses have finished a prolonged period of investigation and have entered into normal society, the Unification Ministry said.