A Britain-based senior North Korean diplomat directly flew to South Korea after expressing his wish to defect to the Seoul government, a source said Friday.

Still image of Thae Yong Ho, North KoreaÕs deputy ambassador in London, speaking on a podium in London
Thae Yong Ho, North Korea’s deputy ambassador in London, speaks on a podium in London, Britain, in the still image taken on August 17, 2016 from a file footage. Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist)/via REUTERS TV

Thae Yong-ho, who served as a minister at North Korea’s embassy in London, and his family arrived in South Korea late last month without going through a third country, according to the source familiar with the matter.

The 55-year-old Thae, known as the No. 2 man at the North’s embassy, has become one of the highest-level North Korean diplomats to desert the repressive regime, South Korea’s unification ministry said Wednesday.

“Thae is believed to have expressed his intent to defect to South Korea” in early or mid-July, the source said. “He is known to have directly flown to Seoul from London.” Read More