Fears for Senior Diplomat’s Family in North Korea After South Korean Lawmakers Reveal His Defection

Fears for Senior Diplomat’s Family in North Korea After South Korean Lawmakers Reveal His Defection


Lawmakers in South Korea discovered Wednesday that a senior North Korean diplomat who disappeared in 2018 even though stationed in Italy has been living in the South, but U.S. experts explained the revelation could endanger the defector envoy’s spouse and children still dwelling in the North.

In November 2018, North Korea’s acting ambassador to Italy Jo Song Gil vanished along with his wife. At the time it was not publicly identified particularly where they were being or what their intentions had been, but it was greatly thought that they experienced defected or sought political asylum.

But Ha Tae-keung, a member of the intelligence committee in South Korea’s Nationwide Assembly reported Wednesday in a Fb article that Jo traveled to South Korea in July 2019 and is now underneath Seoul’s protection.

Ha mentioned the committee decided to make the info public to avert a media frenzy following a South Korean Television station claimed on the defection Tuesday. According to Ha, even more facts had been withheld to shield Jo’s safety.

The committee’s chairman Jeon Hae-chol on Wednesday informed reporters that Jo questioned many times to resettle in South Korea but needed to continue to keep his defection a secret simply because he was worried about relatives in the North, which is regarded to punish the families of defectors.

“Defections constantly come with collateral problems,” Jean Lee of the Washington-centered Wilson Center believe tank advised RFA Wednesday.

Lee and various other North Korea watchers in the U.S. explained they were worried that the revelation endangered Jo’s spouse and children. Jo’s daughter is claimed to have returned to North Korea prior to Jo and his wife vanishing in 2018.

“I be concerned 1st for the family users concerned, both of those all those who have defected and these who remain in North Korea. At the close of the day, a family members has been torn apart. Let’s hope no harm arrives to all those who were remaining powering,” mentioned Lee.

Jo’s information was a reminder that not even North Korea’s higher-ranking officers and their family members have flexibility of motion, she explained.

David Maxwell of the Foundation for Protection of Democracies (FDD) identified as Assemblyman Ha’s expose the “height of irresponsibility.”

“He has set Jo and his wife in good risk.  His daughter experienced presently been returned to north Korea when Jo and his spouse “vanished” and if she is continue to alive, I assume her to go through even a lot more,” Maxwell informed RFA.

Greg Scarlatoiu of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) advised RFA that it was probably that Jo’s defection could drastically alter the way North Korean diplomats are assigned to overseas nations.

“It may make it very complicated for North Korean diplomats and trade representatives to be sent abroad with their families, their children in certain,” he claimed, introducing, “Family users who are by now overseas may well be recalled and sent back again to North Korea.

“It is tough to fully grasp why these types of information would be manufactured community in South Korea. I am anxious about the personal safety of Mr. Jo and his wife,” he explained.

Scarlatoiu pointed out a rise in defections by North Korean diplomats of late. Prior to Jo, the most senior formal to defect to the South was Hwang Jang-yop, a secretary in the Korean Workers’ Party who escaped as a result of the South Korean Embassy in Beijing in 1997.

The most the latest senior formal to defect was Thae Yong-ho, who was a minister at the North Korean embassy in London but defected with his relatives in 2016. Thae is now a lawmaker in South Korea’s Nationwide Assembly.

Scarlatoiu explained Jo’s defection would strengthen the effect that North Korean elites have shed religion in the country’s leadership, in particular individuals who work overseas.

“It even more complicates the Kim regime’s clearance approach for those people sent overseas,” he stated.

“Assemblyman Thae Yong-ho and Jo Tune-gil occur from incredibly high songbun [status] and had been trusted as faithful officials. And however, they defected,” he mentioned,

Maxwell, meanwhile, said North Korea was very likely informed of Jo’s defection.

“It does rather undermine the regime, but its Propaganda and Agitation Department can and will spin this to make it appear to be South Korea’s fault,” he explained.

“Surely North Korea will try out to exploit this and use it versus South Korea,” stated Maxwell.

North Korea used a great deal of June staging indignant general public venting rallies at defectors, denouncing them as traitors following small groups of them introduced balloons across the inter-Korean border carrying leaflets denouncing leader Kim Jong Un.

Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong named the leaflet-launchers “human scum” and “mongrel pet dogs,” when Pyongyang also denounced Seoul for failing to prevent the launches.

Yong-Chool Ha of the College of Washington mentioned the North “will make a fuss out of it and be absolutely sure to challenge accusatory statements towards South Korea.”

“But the issue will not result in a lot of a problem due to the fact it transpired some time back, and there is practically nothing significantly to be received out of it for the North,” Prof. Ha included.

Neither South Korea’s unification or foreign affairs ministries could verify Jo’s defection and neither of the assemblymen spelled out how they uncovered of it.

Seoul’s Countrywide Intelligence Service (NIS), in the meantime claimed on Wednesday it “will not confirm” Jo’s defection as explained in media studies or Assemblyman Ha’s Fb post.

Far more than 33,000 North Koreans have escaped and settled in South Korea because 1998 according to stats from the South Korean Ministry of Unification, together with a lot more than 12,000 among 2011 and 2019.

Claimed by Jeongeun Ji for RFA’s Korean Services.





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