Tokyo denied reports that two high-ranking North Korean officials in Beijing have defected and are seeking political asylum in Japan.
One of the defectors is described as a senior representative whose work included procuring medical supplies for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his immediate circle.
JoongAng Ilbo newspaper identified the man only as “A,” saying he headed the North Korean Representative Office in Beijing and was an employee of a department of the Ministry of Public Health. “A,” his wife and their daughter disappeared on Sept. 28 from a residence used by North Korean diplomats in Beijing. Apparently they then contacted Japanese officials to ask for protection. The newspaper added the man has a relative living in Japan.
It identified the second would-be defector as official “B,” also from the Representative Office. He went into hiding with his family around the same time and supposedly also applied for asylum in Japan.
Yonhap said South Korea’s government is working to bring the defectors there, but the nation’s Unification Ministry had little to say on Wednesday.