The North Korean Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Hyon Hak Bong, is still in London, sources familiar with DPRK foreign affairs told NK News on Thursday.
South Korean media outlet Chosun Ilbo on Thursday reported North Korea had reshuffled the heads of his diplomatic mission in Europe in the aftermath of the defection of high-profile North Korean diplomat Thae Yong Ho.
Chosun Ilbo said Hyon was interrogated in Pyongyang when he was summoned in August, part of an attempt to investigate figures who had recruited and supported Thae.
Thae, who held the position of Minister under Hyon, fled to the South in August, the South’s Ministry of Unification (MoU) announced, following a news story in South Korea’s JoongAng Ilbo.
NK News in September reported Hyon would be returning to Pyongyang imminently, and that the Ambassador was going to be put forward as a candidate for the job of Vice Minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A North Korean defector staying in London, however, argued on Thursday there was yet to be any change in Hyon’s whereabouts.
“He (Hyon) is still here as far as we know,” Kim Joo-il, secretary general of the International North Koreans’ Association for Human Rights & Democracy (INKAHRD) told NK News. “There has been no movement.”
“I know that Ambassador Hyon hasn’t left the country up to now since the asylum of Minister Thae.”
Another source confirmed to NK News that Hyon hasn’t yet returned to Pyongyang.
“A colleague of Hyon at the Embassy told me last week that he expects Hyon to be there (London) at least until the end of this week,” said a diplomatic source in London, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of speaking to media, told NK News. “I don’t know what he’ll do next.”
South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Thursday wasn’t available to immediately comment on Hyon’s whereabouts.
The news comes a day after JoonAng Ilbo reported that a vice minister from North Korea’s foreign ministry, Kung Sok Ung, had been removed from his position due to Thae’s defection.
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