After having disappeared from Rome two years ago, a former senior North Korean envoy to Italy is reportedly now living in South Korea.
South Korean lawmaker Ha Tae-keung of the main opposition People Power Party said on Tuesday that Jo Song-gil came to the South last year under the protection of the South Korean government.
Multiple informed sources confirmed later that Jo arrived in South Korea through a third country.
South Korea's National Intelligence Service has yet to confirm Jo's status.
But if confirmed by the intel agency, Jo would be the highest ranking North Korean official to defect to South Korea in 21 years.
Under Kim Jong-un, who took power in 2011, the highest ranking official to defect before Jo was the North's former number two diplomat in London, Thae Yong-ho, in August 2016.
Jo became the regime's acting ambassador to Rome after the Italian government kicked out the then-diplomat over the North's missile tests in September 2017.
Early last year, Italy's foreign ministry confirmed that Jo’s daughter was repatriated to the North at her request after her parents disappeared.
But his whereabouts had been unclear since November 2018with reports suggesting he was seeking asylum in a third country.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.