People watch a TV news program showing a file image of Thae Yong Ho, minister at the North Korean Embassy in London, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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A senior North Korean diplomat based in London has defected to South Korea, becoming one of the highest Northern officials to do so, South Korea said Wednesday.Jeong said Thae was the second-highest official in North Korea's embassy, and is the most senior North Korean diplomat to defect to South Korea.The highest-level North Korean to seek asylum in South Korea is Hwang Jang-yop, a senior ruling Workers' Party official who once tutored Kim Jong Un's late father, dictator Kim Jong Il. Hwang's 1997 defection was hailed by many South Koreans as an intelligence bonanza and a sign that the North's political system was inferior to the South's.Thae's defection will likely enrage North Korea, which often accuses South Korea of kidnapping or enticing its citizens to defect.South Korea doesn't always make high-level defection cases public. Later in April, South Korea also revealed that a colonel in North Korea's military spy agency had defected to the South last year.
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