North Korea treats a diplomat defector "human waste"

Saturday, 03 Sep, 2016

The Unification Minis-try in Seoul declined to say when or how Thae Yong Ho and his family arrived, or how many relatives accompanied him.

Earlier this week, Seoul announced that Thae Yong Ho, a London-based North Korean diplomat, and his family defected to the South.

Thae's defection signals a change in the pattern of the nature of North Korean defectors, who mostly used to be deprived of any privileges.

South Korea doesn't always make high-level defection cases public. Calls to Thae's mobile phone were redirected to a voicemail inbox.

"It's also possible that they abducted his children and held them hostage until he agreed to go to South Korea", said Kim.

North Korea has described a senior diplomat who defected to the South as "human scum", claiming he is wanted for a number of crimes. Thae and his family are under South Korean government protection and not available for comment.

And, in July, an 18-year-old student, who was in Hong Kong for an worldwide maths contest, reportedly sought asylum in the South Korean consulate in the city.

It also accused Seoul of using Mr Thae's defection to insult the North Korean leadership.

Warwick Morris, a former British ambassador to South Korea who had met Thae on about four occasions, said that the diplomat was "smooth and sophisticated in a slightly North Korean kind of way".

He is one of the highest ranking diplomats ever to defect to South Korea, and the move handed Seoul a major propaganda coup at a time of rising tension on the divided Korean peninsula.

Thae's departure could also be linked to tougher sanctions against North Korea following this year's nuclear and long-range missile tests.

The embassies that are most economically stabile, the source said, are the ones stationed in China and Southeast Asia. The Guardian showed footage of lectures Thae delivered to the Communist Party of Britain in 2013 and at a progressive book store in 2014, where he complained about the exorbitant rent he paid for his two-bedroom home in London and the "congestion charge", a fee for taking cars into central London. It has also presented the colleagues and parents of the waitresses to North Korean and global media in Pyongyang to appeal for their release. Thae is the second-highest official at the embassy.

Debonair and well-spoken, Thae Yong Ho has over ten years' experience working on United Kingdom and EU-related issues as a diplomat.

Defections by North Koreans are commonplace. In this role, Thae was a regular visitor to Brussels. Further announcements are expected to infuriate North Korea.

According to Park, Yong Ho is a son of a North Korean general and was a member of the country's elite.

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