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    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un uses a pair of binoculars to watch live ammunition firing drills.

    ‘Big Blow’: North Korea Sees More ‘Heavyweight’ Defections

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    Last month, two high-ranking North Korean embassy officials in Beijing reportedly defected to Japan.

    One is a former health official that ran the Red Cross and Namsan Hospitals, along with the Bonghwa Medical Center, which treats DPRK leader Kim Jong-Un and his family.

    Korea Joonang Daily also reported that "On Sept. 28, a heavyweight representative in North Korea’s mission in Beijing – who came from the Health Ministry – escaped with his wife and daughter…This family made contact with the Japanese Embassy in China to begin the procedure to head to Japan." 

    The health official reportedly defected to Tokyo instead of Seoul because he has relatives in Japan. The two high-profile defectors chiefly worked in economic cooperation and trade, and had no diplomatic function.

    A government official in Seoul said, "Beijing is the most coveted place to work among key members of North Korea’s elite," and that the Chinese capital "is the heart of North Korea’s diplomacy, so a North Korean defection and asylum-seeking situation there will inevitably be a big blow to Pyongyang." 

    Newser reported that a Japanese government official denied the defection, saying, "there's no truth in the reports that North Korean asylum seekers contacted the Japanese embassy, and we're not aware of any situation involving North Koreans hoping to defect to Japan." 

    South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee stated, "There is nothing that we can confirm."

    Thae Yong-ho, a North Korean deputy ambassador in London, and one of the most senior DPRK officials to defect, took his family and defected to Seoul in July.

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    defection, DPRK, Kim Jong-un, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), Japan
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