The Korea Times (26.08.2016) – – A North Korean diplomat based in Russia defected last month to an unknown country, according to media reports, Friday.


The diplomat worked as a trade representative for North Korea in its consular office in Vladivostok. His whereabouts and detailed route of defection have yet to be identified.


He reportedly defected with his family sometime in July, around the same time that high-profile North Korean diplomat Thae Yong-ho defected to Seoul from London.


The national Intelligence Service refused to clarify if he came to South Korea or not.


The diplomat is known to be a higher-level official than Kim Chol-song, the third secretary and trade representative of the North Korean mission who also defected from St. Petersburg in July.


Local sources said that a joint inspection team from North Korea’s security and trade departments was sent to Vladivostok following the defection.


The team began a full-scale inspection of North Korea missions in Vladivostok, Russia, and China’s Changchun, Shenyang and Dandong, according to the sources.


Following a series of defections, Pyongyang has canceled plans to send company delegates to Yanji in China near its border for a trade fair slated to begin Sunday, they said.


The recent defections followed the U.N. Security Council imposing tougher sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch the following month. These have stirred anxiety among the North Korean elite working overseas, according to North Korea experts.

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