N Korea em­bassy of­fi­cial in Bei­jing de­fects

The Myanmar Times - - World -

A TOP North Korean em­bassy of­fi­cial in Bei­jing has de­fected, South Korea’s Yon­hap news agency said yes­ter­day, while a sep­a­rate re­port sug­gested two em­bassy staff had sought asy­lum with the Ja­panese mis­sion there.

If con­firmed, it would mark the lat­est in a re­cent se­ries of high-pro­file North Korean de­fec­tions that some ob­servers see as a sign of grow­ing in­sta­bil­ity within the lead­er­ship in Py­ongyang.

Yon­hap, quot­ing an anony­mous source, said the of­fi­cial – sta­tioned in the Bei­jing em­bassy but at­tached to the North Korean health min­istry – had dis­ap­peared with his fam­ily in late Septem­ber.

The source said the of­fi­cial was re­spon­si­ble for sourc­ing med­i­cal sup­plies for a clinic in Py­ongyang that caters to North Korean leader Kim JongUn and his fam­ily.

In a sep­a­rate re­port, the South Korean daily, JoongAng Ilbo, said two se­nior staffers at the North Korean em­bassy in Bei­jing had asked for asy­lum in Ja­pan.

The news­pa­per cited an anony­mous source as say­ing the two of­fi­cials were not di­plo­mats, but at­tached to a North Korean govern­ment of­fice.

The North has been rocked by a num­ber of de­fec­tions, most re­cently that of its deputy am­bas­sador to Bri­tain who fled to the South in a ma­jor pro­pa­ganda vic­tory for Seoul.

In a speech on Oc­to­ber 2 to mark Armed Forces Day, South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-Hye made a di­rect ap­peal to more North Kore­ans to aban­don their coun­try.

North-South ties are at a new low in the wake of Py­ongyang’s two nu­clear tests and nu­mer­ous mis­sile launches this year. –

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