North Korean teen math prodigy arrives in South Korea after defection

SEOUL, Sept. 28 (UPI) — A North Korean teenage math prodigy who defected to a South Korean consulate in July left Hong Kong on Saturday.

The teen, identified as Jong Yol Ri, arrived in Seoul after 80 days in South Korean custody in Hong Kong, South Korean news service News 1 reported Wednesday.

Jong, 18, spent the last two months in the South Korean consulate, where he was provided with 24-hour security and a South Korean diplomat kept him company.

Jong was provided with meals and video games to keep him occupied while at the consulate, Hong Kong-based FactWire News Agency reported Wednesday.

Hong Kong-based reporters say Jong was seen inside the consulate, making his bed and cleaning his room behind the curtains. The conference room where Jong was staying had a “Not In Service” sign hung on the door, according to the report.

South Korean sources who spoke to Yonhap on the condition of anonymity said the circumstances around Jong’s speedy passage to the South could not have been possible without China’s handling of the matter.

“Otherwise, his journey to South Korea would have taken considerably longer,” the source said.

Sources also said China was seeking to send North Korea a strong message after North Korea’s fifth nuclear test on Sept. 9.

Beijing does not recognize North Koreans in Chinese territory as political dissidents and has at times repatriated defectors.

Jong had arrived in Hong Kong in July to take part in the 57th International Mathematical Olympiad with five students and two team leaders. The North Korean team ranked sixth among 109 country teams, winning two gold and four silver medals.

The North Korean team reported Jong went missing after the tournament.

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