‘Highest-level defection’: N. Korean diplomat who disappeared in London surfaces in S. Korea

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 Yong-Ho
Thae Yong-Ho

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.