Choi In-guk (73), the second son of former South Korean foreign minister Choi Tok-sin, the highest ranking South Korean official who had defected to North Korea, arrived in Pyongyang on Thursday to live in the North for good, Pyongyang propaganda machine “Between (Korean) People” reported.
“I have decided to live in the Republic (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) for good as I believe to live and follow a country for which I am thankful is the way to fulfill my late parents’ dying wish, and is an obligation as their son,” Choi was quoted by Between (Korean) People as saying upon arriving at Pyongyang International Airport on Sunday.
Choi Tok-sin served as foreign affairs minister and South Korean Ambassador to West Germany during the Park Chung-hee administration. Due to his conflict with President Park at the time, however, he defected to North Korea with his wife Ryu Mi-yong in 1986 via the United States. Ryu is the only daughter of Ryu Dong-yul, who served as a cabinet member and chairman of the general chief of staff of the provisional Korean government in Shanghai and independence fighter affiliated the Cheondogyo religion.
After moving to North Korea, Choi Tok-sin served as the chief of the Chondoist Chongu Party and a deputy chief of an agency in charge of inter-Korean affairs. After he died in 1989, Ryu also served as the chief of the party’s central committee and a standing member of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, the North’s rubberstamp parliament. When Ryu died in 2016, then North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent condolence flowers.
Watchers say that Choi In-guk could take over the position of the Chondoist Chongu Party’s central committee chief, which has remained vacant since Ryu’s death. “We regret that Choi violated the current (South Korean) law to defect to the North, but we hope that he will contribute to expediting religious exchange between the two Koreas,” said Song Beom-du, a leader of Cheondogyo.
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