The former number two at North Korea’s embassy in London has said he fled because he was disillusioned with the “tyrannical reign of terror” in Pyongyang.
Thae Yong Ho told officials in South Korea he escaped with his family because he was disgusted with his homeland. Mr Thae, who has been guarded by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service since his defection in August, met South Korean officials on Monday, according to lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo.
Lee said Mr Thae learned about democracy by watching South Korean dramas and feature films. Thae said North Koreans are suffering “slavery” under Kim Jong-Un’s dictatorship and higher-level officials are subject to more intense state surveillance.
Mr Thae has said he will now work towards “freeing the North Korean people from repression and persecution,” Mr Lee told the Yonhap news agency. “I will engage in public activities even if it threatens my own safety,” he quoted Thae as saying.
South Korean media said that Mr Thae will be under a police protection program. He is the most senior North Korean diplomat to defect to South Korea. (In 1997, the North Korean ambassador to Egypt fled but he resettled in the United States.)