A North Korean national entered the South Korean consulate in Hong Kong seeking political asylum, local media reported on Thursday.
An article from the Ming Pao news paper claimed the defector is 18, and was participating in a recent International Mathematics Olympiad held in Hong Kong from July 6 – 16.
“We can’t verify that. Please understand the South Korean government can’t release information regarding defectors for their own safety and possible diplomatic disputes that might occur with the concerned party,” the South Korean Foreign Ministry said during a Thursday briefing.
According to the report the student is still inside the South Korean compound, and is heavily guarded with armed anti-terrorist units from Hong Kong’s police forces.
The Olympiad’s organizers and the South Korean consulate in the city could not be reached for comment on the news.
The organization’s website says the North Korean team had six male participants, with two students winning gold and four winning silver medals. The North Korean team came sixth out of over 100 countries.
While it has been more than ten days since the contest ended, North Korean media so far has not reported on the results.
This contrasts with last year, when the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on the competition the day after it finished.
“DPRK students came back home on Friday after proving successful at the 56th International Math Olympiad held in Thailand from July 4 to 16,” KCNA reported on July 17.
“Ri Myong Hyok, Jon Kum Song and Ri Il Myong of Pyongyang Secondary School No. 1 bagged gold medals by successfully solving the problems requiring the highest degree of concentration and thinking faculty. Three other students Kang Song Hyok, Choe Song Yong and Ri Jong Yol received silver medals.”
Featured image: International Mathematical Olympiad 2016’s Facebook page