North Korea’s deputy ambassador to UNESCO returned home Monday after being recalled as part of a purge prompted by the execution of the once-powerful uncle of leader Kim Jong-Un, a report said.
Hong Yong, the North’s deputy permanent delegate to UNESCO, and his wife were spotted at Beijing airport Monday before taking the flight to Pyongyang, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said. Hong, one of Jang Song-Thaek’s associates, took the post only six months ago, it said, quoting a diplomatic source in Beijing.
Yonhap said earlier this month that Jang’s nephew and the North’s ambassador to Malaysia, Jang Yong-Chol, had been recalled.
It said last week the North’s ambassador to Sweden, Pak Kwang-Chol, and his wife had also been summoned back to Pyongyang. Pak, who had taken the post in Sweden in late 2012, was seen at Beijing airport being escorted by North Korean officials before taking the flight to Pyongyang on Friday, Yonhap said.
Ryoo Kihl-Jae, South Korea’s unification minister in charge of cross-border affairs, told a parliamentary committee on Monday that the North has been purging officials close to the executed uncle. “We are seeing signs that those who were deeply involved with Jang are being recalled and purged,” he said.
The purge however appears to be targeting a relatively small circle of officials, Ryoo said, rejecting speculation of a sweeping clear-out of party and military ranks.