Double security for defector after assassination

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Double security for defector after assassination

Thae Yong-ho, the senior North Korean diplomat who defected from Britain last year, is under much tighter security following last week’s assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half brother of Pyongyang’s leader, according to a government source Tuesday.

A government source requesting anonymity said that since the murder of Kim on Feb. 13 in Malaysia, extra police are guarding Thae’s residence for a double-tiered level of protection for the former North Korean deputy ambassador in London.

“The number of personnel guarding Thae and his family around-the-clock has been doubled and the security net bolstered,” the official said.

Thae, who said he was disillusioned with the Kim Jong-un regime, defected to Seoul last August with his wife and two sons.

Thae took on a new role as a North Korea analyst with the Institute for National Security Strategy, a think tank affiliated with the NIS.

Thae has been giving interviews to international media, including most recently 60 Minutes from the U.S.

In that interview on CBS that aired Sunday, Thae said, “In order to prevent more possible defections from North Korea, I think Kim Jong-un will do anything.”

When asked by the interviewer if it includes killing Thae himself, the former diplomat replied, “Of course. Why not?”

Thae appeared in an interview with YTN on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the shocking assassination of Kim Jong-nam last week.

“The world saw live evidence of Kim Jong-un’s reign of terror unfolding in North Korea,” Thae said on the program. “This is a case that is very significant in spreading awareness of the malicious nature of the Kim Jong-un regime.”

Thae added he was “not surprised” by the murder of Kim Jong-nam and thought, “what was to happen, happened.” He surmised that Kim’s assassins entered Malaysia separately and that North Korea in principle has more than two agents working on an assignment.

BY CHUN SU-JIN SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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