A legislator says a missing North Korean ambassador to Italy has made a mistake and is living in South Korea.
North Korea’s acting ambassador to Italy, who went missing in 2018, has been in the south since July 2019, the head of South Korea’s parliamentary investigative committee said.
If confirmed, Mr Joe will be the oldest disabled person since 1997.
However he is concerned about his teenage daughter, who is said to have returned to the north.
Italy’s foreign ministry says he was deported to the north in February 2019 at his own request following the disappearance of his parents.
How about Joe Song-gil’s defect?
He went missing with his wife in November 2018 without any prior notice from the embassy, shortly before the end of his term as North Korea’s acting ambassador to Italy.
Reports at the time, the son and nephew of top North Korean officials – are seeking asylum under the protection of Western governments.
On Tuesday, an opposition South Korean legislator said on Facebook that Mr Joe was in the south with his wife and was living in security. On Thursday, Zion He-Seoul, chairman of the National Assembly’s investigative committee, confirmed that this was the case.
“Former Acting Ambassador Joe came to South Korea voluntarily in July 2019,” Mr Jeon added: “He expressed a desire to come to South Korea.”
The country’s intelligence agencies have not yet commented.
What about his daughter?
Not much is known about her except that she is a young man.
Mr Jeon said Mr Joe wanted to keep his location secret. “He was concerned about the rest of his family in North Korea,” Mr Jeon Yonhap was quoted as saying by the news agency.
Another former North Korean ambassador, Tai Yong-ho – Pyongyang’s former deputy ambassador to the UK, who left for South Korea in 2016 and is now a legislator there – said relatives of a loser could face retaliation.
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“A flawed diplomatic career determines the amount of treatment or punishment to be given to his relatives remaining in the North.
“If he takes refuge in South Korea, he is defined as a traitor, a traitor,” Mr Tha added: “And no one knows what fines will be imposed on the family members of a traitor.”
Another deputy legislator, former deputy national security adviser Cho Tae-yong, accused the government of leaking information about Mr Joe, describing it as “an act that has absolutely no humanitarian concerns about his daughter”.
However, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wa said he was surprised by Mr Joe’s whereabouts and shared his concerns with his daughter.
North Korean ambassadors stationed abroad often have to leave several family members in Pyongyang, which is expected to prevent their shortage.
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