SEOUL, Aug. 18 (UPI) — Kim Jong Un has reportedly ordered the elimination — possibly by execution — of agents that fail to stop high-profile elite North Koreans from defecting.
A source on North Korea told Yonhap on Thursday the North Korean leader had ordered security agents to “immediately remove the causal factors for escaped and missing persons,” adding, “those not meeting their target will be promptly eliminated.”
The source said Kim is greatly angered by the defections of elite members of the regime. There are rumors agents who have not stopped elite defections were executed by firing squad, the source added.
Thae Yong Ho, the senior North Korean diplomat who defected from his embassy in London, was a member of North Korea’s hallowed elite.
Thae’s father was an anti-Japanese guerrilla who fought alongside North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, according to South Korean news service Edaily.
Thae’s older brother Thae Hyong Chol is a member of the Korean Workers’ Party Central Committee and president of the country’s prestigious Kim Il Sung University, according to the report.
It is unclear what the consequences of Thae’s defection will have on his relatives who are still in the North.
The North Korean diplomat, responsible for public relations at the London embassy, may have been concerned for his children’s future.
Another source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Radio Free Asia the greatest dilemma North Korean diplomats stationed in the West face is the issue of their children’s education.
“Minister Thae would be no different,” the source said.
One of Thae’s sons had excelled in school and was due to enroll at Imperial College London to study mathematics and computer science, according to The Guardian.
North Korea has yet to issue an official response on the high-profile defection by one of the most trusted members of its elite.