North Korean diplomat defects to South Korea

Ryu Hyun-woo

Ryu Hyun-woo

SEOUL: A North Korean diplomat has defected to South Korea while serving as the acting chief of mission at the country’s embassy in Kuwait, a source said Monday.

Ryu Hyun-woo, who had served as the embassy’s charge d’affaires since Ambassador So Chang-sik was expelled from Kuwait after a U.N. resolution was adopted in 2017, entered South Korea, along with his family, according to the source.

Further details were not available, including the timing of the defection.

But a media report earlier said that Ryu appears to have defected to the South in September 2019, about two months after Jo Song-gil, the acting ambassador to the North’s embassy in Italy, entered the country after disappearing in late 2018.

Some presumed that Ryu is a son-in-law of Jon Il-chun, who once served as the head of Office 39, an organization known to be the “personal safe” of North Korean leaders used in managing secret funds and procuring luxury goods.

Ryu reportedly decided to defect to the South for the sake of the future of his children.

An official of the National Intelligence Agency declined to comment with regard to Ryu’s defection.


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