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Senior North Korean Diplomat Based in U.K. Defects to South

  • South says No. 2 at North Korean embassy yearned for freedom
  • Defection of diplomat is one of the highest-profile in years
People watch a TV news showing Thae Yong Ho on Aug. 17.

People watch a TV news showing Thae Yong Ho on Aug. 17.

Photographer: Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo
Updated on

A North Korean diplomat based in the U.K. has become one of the most senior regime officials in years to defect to South Korea, the nation’s Unification Ministry said on Wednesday.

Thae Yong Ho, the second highest-ranked official at the North Korean embassy in London, has arrived in South Korea with his family, ministry spokesman Jeong Joon Hee told reporters in Seoul. Thae told South Korean officials that he defected because of his disillusionment with Kim Jong Un’s regime and his yearning for freedom, Jeong said.