SEOUL, Oct. 11 (UPI) — A high-level North Korean official in charge of state surveillance defected to the South in 2015, a government source said.
The South Korean source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the official was a director-level member of Pyongyang’s state security department, Yonhap reported on Wednesday, local time.
The high-ranking defector was in charge of identifying trends in public sentiment among the residents of Pyongyang, the capital where the country’s elite reside.
“It is believed in interviews with [South Korean] authorities the official said public sentiment [about the North Korean leadership] in Pyongyang is ‘heated,'” the source stated.
The term “heated” is used to convey negativity about the Kim Jong Un regime, the source explained.
It is highly unusual for North Korean state security department personnel to flee the country, and the defector, identified as “A” in the Yonhap report, is believed to have left with highly confidential information on the Kim regime, and the leadership’s surveillance methods critical to maintaining control of the population.
The defector reportedly told South Korean government interviewers members of his bureau were uncomfortable with Kim’s rule, and after watching “others bounce,” state agents are “bouncing,” or exiting the regime.
Increasing lack of faith in the North Korean leader among the Pyongyang security officials is surprising, given that the state security agency’s chief, Kim Won Hong, is believed to be the unofficial No. 2 in political power in North Korea, according to Yonhap.
Kim, who is in charge of state security, is believed to have played a significant role in guaranteeing Kim Jong Un’s succession after the sudden death of father Kim Jong Il in late 2011.