Kim Jong-un’s reign of terror fazes N. Korean workers abroad: FM Yun

July 9, 2015
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se delivers the opening remarks in a meeting with a group of senior journalists in Seoul on July 9. (Yonhap)

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se delivers the opening remarks in a meeting with a group of senior journalists in Seoul on July 9. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) — North Koreans staying abroad are increasingly swayed by leader Kim Jong-un’s reign of terror in their homeland and some of them actually seek asylum, South Korea’s top diplomat said Thursday.

Three and a half years into power, the young North Korean leader has purged and executed more than 70 officials, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se noted.

“It is a sevenfold increase, compared with the first three years of Chairman Kim Jong-il’s leadership. It’s extremely unusual,” he said at a forum hosted by a group of senior South Korean journalists, called the Kwanhun Club.

South Korea’s spy agency has said North Korea has executed some 90 officials since Kim took power. It was not immediately known why there is a discrepancy in the number of those executed in the North.

Yun also said South Korea has detected signs “in various forms” that the North’s “workers” abroad are especially disturbed by Kim’s leadership style.

“In quite a few cases, some of them come to South Korea,” he said.

He did not clarify whether he was referring to government or communist party officials or ordinary North Koreans working overseas to earn foreign currency.

Yun’s remarks came amid multiple media reports that some middle- and high-ranking North Korean officials, including military officers, have recently defected to the South.

But he said many related news reports involving specific figures are incorrect.

The minister, meanwhile, said President Park Geun-hye and her U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, are expected to reach an important deal on ways to deal with North Korea when they meet in Washington later this year.

Park initially planned to visit the U.S. capital in June for a meeting with Obama, but she postponed it due to the outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus in South Korea.

Yun said the allies will soon fix a new schedule for the president’s trip, reportedly slated for autumn.

“During the president’s trip to the U.S., I think there will be an important agreement on the North Korea issue,” he said.

Park and Obama plan to share “more advanced and updated common perceptions supported by China, Japan and Russia as well.”

On the possibility of Park attending a war anniversary ceremony in Beijing in September, the minister said it will be decided in consideration of various factors.

Both Park and the North’s leader have been invited to the event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

The North does not appear to be interested in leader Kim’s participation, he said.

Yun said South Korea is also working hard to resume trilateral summit talks with China and Japan within this year.

In that regard, both Seoul and Beijing will pay heed to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s speech expected around Aug. 15, the anniversary of the end of World War II.

“It would be a golden opportunity for the prime minister to dispel doubts about his perception of history,” Yun said.

If three-way summit talks are arranged, the venue will be South Korea and it would also set the stage for a bilateral meeting between the leaders of South Korea and Japan, he added.