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(LEAD) More N.K. diplomats have escaped to S. Korea than made public: defector

All Headlines 12:33 January 17, 2017

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; ADDS details throughout)

SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- A former North Korean embassy minister in London who defected to Seoul last year said Tuesday a large number of his fellow diplomats have recently fled to South Korea, even though such flights have not been made public.

"A significant number of diplomats came to South Korea," Thae Yong-ho told a conference hosted by the conservative Bareun Party which will be launched this month. "Even now, there are a number of (North Koreans) waiting to head to the South."

"There will be an increase in the number of elite-class defectors seeking a better life," he added. "I am the only high-ranking official whose identity has been revealed to the public. South Korean media do not know but North Korean diplomats are all aware of it."

Thae also called for preparations for a people's uprising to topple the Kim Jong-un regime to forge lasting peace and stability on the peninsula.

He described North Korea as just a slave society that serves the Kim hereditary monarch, not a genuine communist country.

"The concept of a proletarian dictatorship is long gone in North Korea. It has instead become a single gigantic slave society that exists only for the Kim family," Thae said at the National Assembly.

Thae claimed Kim Jong-un is facing challenges as, unlike his father, he did not have enough time to prepare for the succession of power.

Thae Yong-ho, a former Pyongyang diplomat who defected to South Korea, speaks during a conference held at the National Assembly in Seoul on Jan. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

colin@yna.co.kr
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