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North Korean diplomat who went missing in Italy two years ago has defected to South Korea

According to new reports, high ranking North Korean diplomat Jo Song Gil, who went missing in Italy in November of 2018, has defected to South Korea with his wife. Jo left the North Korean embassy in Rome, where he was employed as acting ambassador, and defected to South Korea where he now resides. This makes Jo one of the regime’s most high profile officials to defect in decades. His whereabouts have been unknown for roughly two years, but earlier this week South Korean authorities confirmed that the ambassador had defected in 2019.

South Korea stated that Jo is currently under government protection within the country. Jo disappeared shortly before his term as North Korea’s top diplomat in Italy was set to expire, according to South Korean lawmakers. The Italian Foreign Ministry received a notice from the North Korean Embassy claiming that Jo and his wife had fled the embassy on November 10. Four days later, Jo’s daughter showed up in North Korea accompanies by staff from the North Korean embassy after requesting to be reunited with her grandparents. Jo’s defection was not made public for over a year due to concerns over the family’s safety.

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