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Cheong Wa Dae 'unaware' of N. Korean diplomat's reported asylum bid in Italy

All Headlines 10:16 January 03, 2019

SEOUL, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's presidential office said Thursday it has no information to confirm a news report that a senior North Korean diplomat in Italy is seeking asylum.

"There's nothing Cheong Wa Dae knows" about the report that the North's acting ambassador to Italy, Jo Song-gil, is attempting to gain asylum, presidential spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom said in a text message to reporters here.

Earlier in the day, the JoongAng Ilbo, a Seoul-based daily, said the 48-year-old envoy in Rome applied for personal security protection with the Italian government in early December. It cited an unidentified diplomatic source.

Local authorities are "protecting him at a safe place," the source was quoted as saying.

Jo has reportedly been out of public sight for a while.

He has led Pyongyang's embassy there since Italy expelled Amb. Mun Jong-nam in 2017 over the communist nation's nuclear program.

lcd@yna.co.kr
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