People Power Party (PPP) lawmaker and former deputy ambassador at the North Korean Embassy in London Thae Yong-ho expressed concerns about the media reports that the former acting ambassador at the North Korean Embassy in Rome Jo Song-gil has settled in South Korea. Rep. Thae said Jo will be defined as a “traitor and apostate” in North Korea and his family left in the North might receive punishment.
Speaking to the reporters at the National Assembly on Wednesday, Thae said the situation is unusual in that Jo’s daughter has been sent back to the North, adding the level of punishment Jo’s daughter will receive in the North will vary depending on the whereabouts of Jo and his wife. Thae said he is very concerned about the situation and how the information has been exposed.
If North Korean diplomats quietly stay in the same country they have been residing after escaping from a North Korean embassy, they are classified as escapees or seceders but if they defect to South Korea, they are defined as traitors and apostates, explained Thae.
“The heaviest punishment given to the family of defected diplomats classified as escapees or seceders is deportation to rural areas. They do not receive extreme punishment, such as being sent to political prisoner camps,” said Thae. “But no one knows what punishment would be given to the family of a traitor or apostate.”