North Korean state media call defector ‘human scum’

North korea Defector

North korea Defector

North Korea’s deputy ambassador to Britain, who defected to South Korea this week, is a criminal who had been ordered to return home for questioning, Pyongyang state media said Saturday.

The defector, Thae Yong-Ho, had embezzled huge sums of money, raped a minor and spied for South Korea, Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

KCNA did not name the “diplomat who fled his mission in London” but was apparently referring to Thae.

He is one of the highest ranking diplomats ever to defect to South Korea, and the move handed Seoul a major propaganda coup at a time of rising tension on the divided Korean peninsula.

The news agency in Pyongyang criticised Britain for handing over Thae and his family, calling him “human scum”, to the South, saying that Pyongyang had previously told London of his crimes and requested his extradition.

The comments mark Pyongyang’s first public response to the high-level defection, which was a rare and damaging loss of diplomatic face for North Korea.

Seoul said earlier this week that Thae’s defection reflected a loss of faith among North Korea’s elite in Kim Jong-Un’s leadership.

Thae had become disillusioned with the Pyongyang regime, admired South Korea’s free and democratic system, and was concerned about his family’s future, the South’s Unification Ministry said after the defection.

But KCNA said Saturday Thae fled “for fear of legal punishment for his crimes”, adding that the South had brought the “fugitive” to Seoul to use him for its anti-Pyongyang smear campaign.

Thae was told to return home in June “for questioning as regards the embezzlement of huge amount of state funds, leakage of state secrets for money and rape of a minor”, it said.

The North’s prosecution authorities issued a legal document on starting the investigation on July 12, KCNA said.

“He deserved a legal punishment for his crimes, but he took to flight, betraying his country and parents and other kith and kin”, KCNA said.

“He thus revealed himself as human scum bereft of elementary sense of moral obligation and conscience,” it added.

Thae was believed to have worked at the embassy in London for 10 years, with one of his main tasks being to counter the image of North Korea as a nuclear pariah state and notorious human rights abuser.

The news agency also referred to 12 North Korean waitresses who were working at a restaurant in China and defected to South Korea in April, blaming Seoul of “such a hideous terrorism as kidnapping”.

South Korea has maintained that the waitresses went to South Korea voluntarily.