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High-profile N. Korean defector announces bid to run in April elections

All News 11:28 February 11, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- A high-profile North Korean defector officially announced his bid to run in the April parliamentary elections Tuesday, vowing to work for inter-Korean unification if elected.

Thae Yong-ho, a former senior North Korean diplomat, joined the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) and will run in a constituency in Seoul for the April 15 elections, not for a parliamentary proportional representation seat.

Thae, who defected to South Korea in 2016, said North Korean citizens aspiring for freedom will probably have hopes and confidence if he is elected as a representative of the people in a democratic society.

"Like I am the witness of North Korea's human rights and nuclear problems in the Republic of Korea, I will become the proof of free and representative democracy in North Korea, (if elected)," Thae told a press conference at the National Assembly.

Thae lamented ideological divisions between conservative and liberals over North Korea's issue and vowed efforts to help the country craft out "genuine North Korea and unification policies.

"Based on my experience and expertise, ... I will strive to help the country make a realistic unification policy for the genuine peaceful reunification between the two Koreas and a true unification policy that any person can sympathize with," Thae said.

LKP officials said that Thae will be granted the party's priority recommendation to run in a district of the affluent Gangnam in southern Seoul, where the conservative party has been traditionally strong.

Thae, 57, served as the North's deputy ambassador to London before he defected to South Korea with his family.

Thae Yong-ho, former senior North Korean diplomat, announces his bid to run in the April 15 parliamentary elections at the National Assembly in Seoul on Feb. 11, 2020. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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