FOR centuries following the lead of Ancient Rome, countries who entered into peace agreements with those that they had defeated in battle required that the leaders of those countries should often surrender children or close members of family as hostages in order to guarantee their good behaviour.
Now, coincidental to the defection of the most senior North Korean diplomat to South Korea, the North Korean regime has implemented such a ‘hostage’ rule, demanding that the children of all North Korean overseas diplomats over the age of 25 should return to the capital Pyongyang.
Although the regime had been relatively silent with regards to the defection of the number two at the North Korean embassy in the UK Thae Yong-ho, now that he has surfaced in South Korea having claimed asylum, they have made a number of statements about the unnamed ‘fugitive’ who had fled to Seoul with his family, calling him “human scum.”
According to the Korean Central News Agency (a mouthpiece for the North Korean ruler), the former diplomat had been summoned back to Pyongyang in June to face charges of theft of government funds, release of state secrets and sexually assaulting a minor which is why “he discarded the fatherland that raised him and even his own parents and brothers by fleeing, thinking nothing but just saving himself.”
In addition, the North Korean authorities have accused Britain of ignoring a request for his extradition for the alleged crimes and blamed the country for sending him to South Korea.
Whilst his defection to South Korea is seen as something of a coup, some elements in government there fear that his presence may exacerbate tension between the two countries whose relationship is almost non-existent and even lead to a possible assignation attempt on the former diplomat’s life.