October 18, 2011 12:53
A North Korean artist who was sent to work in Egypt reportedly defected to the South Korean Embassy there after experiencing the Arab Spring that swept across the Middle East early this year. A government official on Monday said the artist (38) from Pyongyang sought refuge in the embassy in Cairo on Oct. 8 and is now in South Korea.
He was dispatched to Egypt in 2006 and sent the money earned from designing the interiors of homes and luxury villas of the Egyptian elite to North Korea. Although he was ordered by the regime government to return to Pyongyang in 2008, he stayed and went into hiding. He managed to avoid the North Korean Embassy's watchful eyes by living with an Egyptian woman, and survived for three years on interior design commissions.
The catalyst for his decision to come to South Korea was the popular uprising in Egypt. Witnessing the fall of the Hosni Mubarak regime that had lasted for three decades, he became aware of the "absurdity" of the North Korean regime, the official said.
The artist went to the South Korean Embassy in Cairo two months ago and was kept there for questioning for about a month. He "is settling into South Korean life, but he is very concerned that news of his defection would harm his family in North Korea," the official added.
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