A North Korean diplomat who disappeared in Italy has defected and lives in South Korea, a lawmaker has mentioned.
Jo Music-gil, North Korea’s performing ambassador to Italy who disappeared in 2018, had been within the south since July 2019, the top of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee mentioned.
If confirmed, Mr Jo can be the longest-serving defector since 1997.
Nonetheless, there are issues for her teenage daughter, who has reportedly returned to the North.
Italy’s Overseas Ministry mentioned she was repatriated to the North in February 2019 at her personal request after her dad and mom went lacking.
How did Jo Music-gil fail?
He disappeared along with his spouse after leaving the embassy with out warning in November 2018, simply earlier than the top of his tenure as North Korea’s performing ambassador to Italy.
Reviews on the time indicated that the diplomat – the son and son-in-law of senior North Korean officers – was searching for asylum underneath the safety of Western governments.
On Tuesday, a South Korean opposition MP mentioned on Fb that Mr Jo was within the south along with his spouse and dwelling underneath safety. On Thursday, Jeon Hae-cheol, chairman of the Nationwide Meeting’s intelligence committee, confirmed that was the case.
“Former Appearing Ambassador Jo got here to South Korea of his personal free will in July 2019,” Jeon mentioned, including, “He has repeatedly expressed his want to come to South Korea.”
The nation’s intelligence companies have but to remark.
And her daughter?
Little is thought about her besides that she is a youngster.
Mr Jeon mentioned Mr Jo needed his whereabouts to be saved secret. “He was involved that his household was staying in North Korea,” Jeon mentioned, in quotes launched by the Yonhap Information Company.
One other former North Korean diplomat, Thae Yong-ho – Pyongyang’s former deputy ambassador to the UK who defected to South Korea in 2016 and is now a lawmaker there – mentioned family members of a defector might face retaliation.
“The place a deposed diplomat lives determines the extent of remedy or punishment to be given to these near him within the North.
“If he takes asylum in South Korea he’s outlined as a traitor, an apostate,” Thae mentioned, including: “And nobody is aware of what penalties can be imposed on relations of a traitor. . “
One other opposition MP, Cho Tae-yong, who can be a former deputy nationwide safety adviser, accused the federal government of leaking details about Mr. Jo and described him as “a lacking act. utterly of humanitarian concerns regarding his daughter “.
Nonetheless, Overseas Minister Kang Kyung-wha mentioned she was “shocked” by the information of Mr. Jo’s whereabouts and shared her issues for her daughter.
North Korean diplomats posted overseas typically have to depart a number of relations in Pyongyang, a transfer that ought to forestall them from defecting.