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N. Korean diplomat defects from Russia: source

2016/08/25 23:44

MOSCOW/SHENYANG, China, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean diplomat stationed in Russia defected last month, a local source said Thursday, amid a series of defections from the communist country to seek a new life in South Korea.

The diplomat from Pyongyang's trade representatives under its consulate general in Vladivostok could have possibly defected with family, according to the source who asked not to be named.

The identity and whereabouts of the diplomat have not been made clear.

The diplomat is known to have been in charge of covering trade issues while sending necessary goods back to North Korea, according to the source.

The South Korean consulate general in Vladivostok declined to comment on the issue.

Last week, Seoul's unification ministry said high-ranking North Korean diplomat Thae Yong-ho recently defected to South Korea from London with his family, dealing a blow to the reclusive regime.

The rare defections by elite members of North Korean society have come after the U.N. Security Council slapped tougher sanctions on Pyongyang in March for its nuclear test in January and long-range rocket launch the following month.

Following this series of defections, North Korea has canceled its plan to send five of its companies to Yanji in China's Jilin Province near the border with North Korea for a trade fair slated to begin Sunday, according to local industry sources.

North Korea is also known to have dispatched about a hundred officials from its security and trade departments to the border area in China to conduct a full-scale investigation of its overseas missions there before returning earlier this week, according to media reports.

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