Seoul, July 9 (IANS) Seoul’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se on Thursday confirmed that some North Koreans abroad have defected to South Korea to escape dictator Kim Jong-un’s “reign of terror”.
South Korea received feelers from North Koreans in foreign countries who were disturbed by Kim’s aggressive rule, Yun told reporters in Seoul, Efe news agency reported.
“In quite a few cases, some of them came to South Korea,” said the minister.
The statement by Yun follow reports in the South Korean media which claimed that an unknown number of North Koreans, including high-ranking officials deployed abroad, have sought asylum in South Korea under fear of victimisation by the Kim regime.
Seoul is yet to confirm the report, though the ministry of unification on Thursday dismissed a report about an alleged defection by an important North Korean general.
Pyongyang attributed the rumours to false propaganda by the South Korean media to tarnish North Korea’s image and propound the impression of instability and terror in the country.
South Korea’s National Intelligence Agency said in May that Kim had executed 70 officials since coming to power in December 2011, following the death of his father, Kim Jong-il.
The South Korean minister on Thursday termed it as “extremely unusual” given “it is seven times the number (of executions) that occurred during the first three years of Kim Jong-il’s leadership”.
North Korea’s extreme inscrutability makes it impossible to verify the information.
Kim’s ruthlessness showed in December 2013, when he ordered the execution of his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, considered number two in the North Korean regime, for “treason”.