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Fugitive North Korean diplomat with family got South Korea govt's protection

Fugitive North Korean diplomat with family got South Korea govt's protectionAs of Thursday, Pyongyang hadn't made a public statement about the defection of Thae Yong Ho, minister at the North Korean Embassy in London.

Seoul's Unification Ministry announced Wednesday that Thae Yong Ho, minister at the North Korean Embassy in London, has arrived in South Korea with his family and is under the protection of the South Korean government. Thae was the second-highest official in North Korea's embassy and is the most senior North Korean diplomat to defect to the South.

Thae as not yet spoken in public about his motives and details about the context of his defection remain sketchy. However, South Korean Unification Ministry claimed Thae defected because of his disgust with the Kim Jong Un regime and worries about the future of his children.

Thae, 55, is a veteran diplomat who is experienced in dealing with countries in Western Europe. He led a North Korean delegation that held talks with European Union representatives over the North's human rights situation in Brussels in 2001, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

He had worked at the London embassy for about 10 years, Yonhap said. Previously, he worked at the now-closed embassy in Denmark and spent a short period of time at the embassy in Sweden, it said.

Though South Korea doesn't always make high-level defection cases public, its announcement of Thae's flight comes as ties between the rivals are at one of their lowest points in decades. North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and Seoul been working hard to apply more international pressure on the North.
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