North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered the children of diplomats home, the Sankei Shimbun reported Friday.
According to the Japanese daily, more than 3,000 children of senior officials who are studying abroad without their parents are being called back. There are probably more if the children of officials working undercover as spies and others trying to earn valuta for the regime are included.
Kim ordered diplomats and trading officials overseas to send all their children except for one each home to North Korea by the end of this month, the Sankei quoted North Korean officials in China as saying.
One reason is to reduce expenses, but the regime is also apparently trying to hold the children hostage in case diplomats think of defecting and to prevent them being exposed to Western ideas, the paper speculated.
A North Korean source said, "An increasing number of senior officials have been sending their children abroad to study since the Kim Jong-un regime took power. There have been several reports that they went missing in foreign countries."
In May this year, the 19-year-old daughter of a senior North Korean police officer, who was studying in China, sought refuge there.
Back in 2007, former leader Kim Jong-il also ordered the children of overseas officials home but soon relented in the face of their resistance. The Sankei said discontent is already brewing again, despite the more lenient order which let one child per diplomat stay abroad.