March 22, 2023

Why N.Korea isn’t telling citizens about its defector diplomat

Defection could make North Koreans question who, exactly, still supports Kim Jong Un

North Korea has an awful public relations problem that transcends mundane questions like how to explain away human rights violations, public executions, forced abortion, torture and all that. They’ve heard that stuff before, many, many times, and have no problem dealing with it. Outraged denials, charges of evil fabrication, accusations of besmirching “the dignity” of leader Kim Jong Un – those are boilerplate responses that statement writers in Pyongyang muster automatically.

What do you do, however, about a senior diplomat who goes missing from one of your most important foreign embassies and turns up in South Korea with his wife and two sons? Okay, the writers at the Korean Central News Agency, after a day or two's hesitation while leader Kim Jong Un was absorbing this latest embarrassment, came up with the usual denigration of the man as “human scum,” guilty of charges concocted to portray him as a low-life criminal. Embezzlement and raping minors led the list.