Top-Level Defectors from N.Korea Identified

      December 03, 2010 11:37

      Among senior North Korea officials whose defection to the South was revealed by the WikiLeaks cables is Sol Jong-sik, the first secretary of the Youth League in North Korea's Ryanggang Province. Sol (40) fled the North in June last year, it emerged on Thursday.

      Another is the chief of an overseas mission in Northeast Asia, who defected in the second half of last year. And a former head of a North Korean corporation charged with earning hard currency for the regime has also defected to Seoul.

      "Sol Jong-sik was one of the most prominent officials in their 30s and 40s who assumed key positions in Pyongyang and provincial regions after Kim Jong-un was designated as the heir apparent to the leadership last year,” a North Korean source said.

      The Youth League is a key social organization with a nationwide network. Many of the league's senior members move on to key offices in the Workers Party. "Sol is interested in the outside world and likes South Korean TV dramas," the source said. "I understand he fled the North due to a problem caused by these propensities."

      A directory for North Korea's organizations published by the Unification Ministry in 2009 identifies Sol Jong-sik as the first secretary of the Youth League in Ryanggang Province. But in the 2010 edition the entry is blank.

      The high-ranking diplomat in Northeast Asia "fled the North late last year and the head of the corporation in charge of earning hard currency traveled overseas to buy electrical materials and defected," another source said.

      According to a U.S. diplomatic cable disclosed by WikiLeaks, then foreign minister Yu Myung-hwan told U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues Robert King, who was visiting Seoul in January this year, "An unspecified number of high-ranking North Korean officials working overseas had recently defected." The situation in the North was becoming "increasingly chaotic," Yu added.

      The National Intelligence Service refused to confirm the reports.

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