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(LEAD) Son of Jang Song-thaek's aide disappears in Paris

All Headlines 15:58 November 19, 2014

(ATTN: ADDS background in last 4 paras)

PARIS, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) -- A North Korean college student in Paris has been missing for more than two weeks, sources here said Wednesday, amid speculation that agents from the North are attempting to forcibly take him back to the communist nation.

The student, only identified by his surname Han, is a son of an aide to Jang Song-thaek, the once powerful uncle of the North's leader Kim Jong-un. Jang was executed in December last year on treason charges.

Han's father is known to have been purged recently as part of the Kim regime's continued work to clear the remnants of the Jang era.

A senior official at Han's school told Yonhap News Agency that, "I asked other students and faculty members about Han's whereabouts but nobody has seen him at least for the past 15 days."

Local police came to the school last week in search of Han, added the official.

A source said Han had been picked up by North Korean agents dispatched to Paris.

He dramatically escaped while being taken to an airport and he is now staying at a certain location, the source said.

If confirmed true, the case could cause a diplomatic rift between North Korea and France.

The two sides have no formal diplomatic ties. The North maintains a diplomatic delegation in Paris to pursue economic and cultural exchanges on a limited basis.

In 2011, the French government reportedly offered a chance for Han and nine other North Korean students to study at the famous architecture school named "Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Architecture de Paris-La Villette."

All of them were students at the Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang.

Last December, meanwhile, the North recalled Hong Yong, its deputy delegate to UNESCO in Paris, amid reports that he was a close confidant to Jang. On his way back to Pyongyang, Hong was spotted at Beijing Capital International Airport being closely watched by North Korean agents.

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