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Thae urges N.K. diplomat seeking asylum to come to S. Korea

Thae urges N.K. diplomat seeking asylum to come to S. Korea

Posted January. 07, 2019 07:27,   

Updated January. 07, 2019 07:27

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Thae Yong-ho, former North Korean deputy ambassador to the U.K., wrote an open letter to Jo Song Gil, North Korea's acting ambassador to Italy, who is reportedly seeking asylum in the U.S., urging Jo to come to South Korea. “It is an obligation, not a choice, (for Jo) to come to the Republic of Korea,” the North Korean defector said.

“The Republic of Korea’s Constitution suggests that ‘the territory of Korea consists of the Korean Peninsula and affiliated islands. This means that all North Korean people are citizens of Korea,” Thae said in a blog post on Saturday. “If you say that ‘I am a citizen of the Republic of Korea according to the Constitution, and will come to the Republic of Korea, the fatherland,’ (no one) will be able to block you from taking your future course of action. You should join forces with me in Seoul, dismantle the privileged class to which we belonged in North Korea, and reunify this nation.”

“You could help your son to complete an undergraduate program in a prestigious university in South Korea, and send him to the U.S. for a master’s program,” Thae said, disclosing, in an unusual move, his family studying at undergraduate and graduate schools in the South. Jo reportedly married Li Gwang Sun in 2001 and has a son.

South Korea’s opposition parties have blasted the South Korean government, saying it has been constantly passive on its stance towards Jo. “It is too obvious that North Korea is scrambling to chase after him, and his safety is in imminent jeopardy,” said Lee Jong-cheol, spokesman of the minor Bareun Mirae Party. “The South Korean government and its spy agency are not giving any intelligence, or showing any countermeasure or commitment whatsoever.”


Ji-Hoon Lee easyhoon@donga.com