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N. Korean diplomats heavily rely on Yonhap News for information: N.K. defector

All News 11:53 January 08, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korean diplomats working overseas check global news about their regime through the South Korean key newswire service Yonhap News Agency, a high-profile North Korean defector said Sunday.

In an interview with Yonhap News Agency, Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean minister stationed in London, said: "Yonhap News reports various news about North Korea. North Korean diplomats check Yonhap first when they go to work."

Thae defected to South Korea in August last year, becoming one of the highest-ranking North Korean officials to escape to the South.

Former high-ranking North Korean diplomat Thae Yong-ho looks around the Yonhap News Agency office that monitors North Korea after an interview on Jan. 8, 2017. (Yonhap)

He also said they refer to Yonhap's reports on what other foreign media say about North Korea when they make an intelligence report to the regime.

"I learned through a Yonhap report that Ri Ryong-ha and Jang Su-gil, close aides to Jang Song-thaek, had been killed before Jang was executed. I doubted if the report was true at that time, but it turned out it is," he said.

Ri was the first-deputy director of the administrative department of the Workers' Party and Jang was a deputy director of the same department. Jang Song-thaek was dictator Kim Jong-un's uncle, who was once considered one of the most powerful figures in Pyongyang but was killed by his own nephew.

The execution of the two people became known when the National Intelligence Service briefed the Intelligence Committee of the National Assembly on the news on Dec. 3, 2013.

North Korean diplomats install the Yonhap News application on their smartphones, checking the news constantly and receiving breaking news alerts, Thae said. He even suggested the news company makes it easier for readers to get access to North Korean news on the app.

In the press conference on Dec. 27, he made similar comments that opening up the Yonhap News website is what North Korean diplomats do as soon as they log on to their computers.

Thae said the constant monitoring is partly to be better prepared for meetings with outsiders by arming themselves with information about what and how much outsiders know about the regime.

Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean minister at the North Korean Embassy in London, drinks water while speaking to Yonhap News Agency on Jan. 8, 2017. (Yonhap)


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