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Lawmaker says missing N Korean diplomat has settled in South Korea

A former senior North Korean diplomat who disappeared from his country’s embassy in Italy in 2018 has settled in South Korea, a lawmaker in Seoul said on Tuesday.

Jo Song Gil, who was North Korea’s acting ambassador to Italy, disappeared with his wife after leaving the embassy without notice in early November 2018, and his whereabouts have been unclear since.

In a post on Facebook, Ha Tae-keung, a South Korean opposition party lawmaker who sits on parliament’s intelligence committee, said that Jo had settled in South Korea last year under the protection of the government.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency cited multiple unnamed sources who also said that Jo and his wife were living in South Korea.

A National Intelligence Service official told Yonhap that the agency could not confirm the report.

Thae Yong Ho, Pyongyang’s former deputy ambassador to Britain who defected to South Korea in 2016, had publicly urged Jo to settle in the South.

According to Italy’s foreign ministry, Jo’s daughter was repatriated to North Korea at her request after her parents went missing.

Media reports at the time suggested Jo was seeking asylum in the United States or an unspecified European country.