Di­plo­mat de­fec­tor branded a ‘crim­i­nal’

The Myanmar Times - - World -

NORTH Ko­rea’s deputy am­bas­sador to Bri­tain, who de­fected to South Ko­rea this week, is a crim­i­nal who had been or­dered to re­turn home for ques­tion­ing, Py­ongyang state me­dia has claimed.

Thae Yong-ho is one of the high­es­trank­ing North Korean diplo­mats ever to de­fect to the South – gift­ing Seoul a ma­jor pro­pa­ganda coup at a time of ris­ing ten­sion on the di­vided Korean penin­sula.

The Korean Cen­tral News Agency (KCNA) said on Au­gust 20 that Mr Thae, whom they de­scribed as “hu­man scum”, had em­bez­zled state funds, raped a mi­nor and spied for South Ko­rea in ex­change for money.

The re­port did not name the “di­plo­mat who fled his mis­sion in Lon­don” but was ap­par­ently re­fer­ring to Mr Thae.

Any de­fec­tion by a rank­ing mem­ber of an over­seas North Korean mis­sion would make waves, but Lon­don is con­sid­ered a par­tic­u­larly pres­ti­gious post­ing that puts Mr Thae’s move on a whole dif­fer­ent level.

The news agency crit­i­cised Bri­tain for hand­ing over Mr Thae and his fam­ily to the South, say­ing that Py­ongyang had pre­vi­ously told Lon­don of his crimes and re­quested his ex­tra­di­tion.

The com­ments mark Py­ongyang’s first public re­sponse to the high-level de­fec­tion, mak­ing it a rare and ev­i­den­tally galling loss of face for North Ko­rea.

Seoul said Mr Thae’s de­fec­tion re­flected a loss of faith among North Ko­rea’s elite in Kim Jong-un’s lead­er­ship. –

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