03:37 GMT03 March 2021
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    The acting ambassador and alleged escapee is reportedly the son-in-law of Jon Il-chun, former overseer of a Worker's Party bureau “responsible for managing the ruling Kim family's secret coffers”.

    Ryu Hyun-woo, North Korea's acting ambassador in Kuwait, has allegedly defected to South Korea, according to Tae Yong-ho, a North Korean defector himself who formerly was Pyongyang's deputy ambassador to Britain prior to fleeing to South Korea and being elected as a lawmaker there.

    Ryu led the North Korean embassy in Kuwait since the expulsion of the former Ambassador So Chang-sik in the wake of the 2017 UN resolution aimed at scaling down the country's diplomatic missions abroad.

    Tae also said that Ryu is also the son-in-law of Jon Il-chun, the person who was formerly in charge of overseeing a Worker's Party bureau "responsible for managing the ruling Kim family's secret coffers, dubbed Room 39", as Reuters put it.

    He also speculated that Ryu's alleged defection might be a sign that the North Korean elite who "shore up" Kim Jong-un's power base has been steadily drifting away from him.

    The South Korean National Intelligence Service, however, has reportedly declined to comment on the matter.

    This development comes several months after the flight of Jo Song-gil, North Korea's acting ambassador to Italy, who vanished from the embassy together with his wife only to reemerge in South Korea.

    Tags:
    speculations, defection, ambassador, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK)
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