N. Korean Embassy Worker in Ethiopia Defects to S. Korea

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By Kim Sue-young Staff Reporter An employee at the North Korean Embassy in Ethiopia defected to South Korea last year seeking asylum, according to a report Tuesday. An official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade did neither confirm the report nor deny it, only saying that it did not publicize every single case of defection via a third country. The 40-year-old defector, who is also a medical doctor identified as a Kim, rushed into the South Korean Embassy in mid-October, the 24-hour news channel YTN reported, quoting an unidentified diplomatic source. He stayed at the embassy for two to three weeks, the report said. The North Korean ambassador there said in a phone call that it might not be good if the South Korean Embassy kept hiding Kim. The North Korean Embassy also sent cars and had them line up in front of the South Korean Embassy in protest against sheltering the defector, the report said. The Seoul government dispatched a ranking official to the African country and brought the asylum seeker here in early November. In a separate development, the foreign ministry’s task force will help North Korean defectors staying in foreign countries enter South Korea, ministry sources said. The team, established under the ministry’s Overseas Koreans and Consular Affairs Bureau, will be in operation in June at the earliest, they said.Team members will hold negotiations with officials of foreign countries where North Koreans are waiting for approval to be allowed to enter South Korea. An ambassador or consul will be dispatched to the country, if necessary, to assist them in traveling to the South, the sources said.ksy@koreatimes.co.kr