North Korean math whiz defector now in South Korea

The North Korean defector who sought refuge in Hong Kong last month left the city for South Korea about a week ago. A source told the South China Morning Post that the youth, identified as Jong Yol-ri, was accompanied by staff from the South Korean consulate and the Hong Kong government to the city’s airport where he boarded a flight for Seoul about a week ago. “It was a night flight,” the source said.

According to YTN, 18-year-old Jong – who defected while in Hong Kong to attend a math competition – intends to further his studies outside South Korea. The Post was told the student was likely to settle in the United States after a couple of months.

Jong, a two-time silver medalist who had just picked up a third at this year’s math contest, was staying at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, where the annual Olympiad was held, before he left his five teammates and fled.

The South Korean consulate, where Jong sought refuge after sneaking away from the 57th International Mathematical Olympiad on July 16, did not respond to the Post’s inquiries.

Jong is the first known North Korean to defect in Hong Kong since the city’s handover to China in 1997. Security around the South Korean Consulate was visibly stepped up after he sought refuge there. It was understood that uniformed and plainclothes officers from the counter-terrorism unit were deployed there.

Steve Chung Lok-wai, an ­expert in Korean affairs at Chinese University, said the defector’s departure was likely to have been ­endorsed by the Beijing ­government.

[South China Morning Post]

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