UK-Based North Korean Diplomat Defects to South Korea
The second highest ranking official at North Korea's embassy in London has defected to South Korea, according to the South Korean Unification Ministry.
Thae Yong Ho has arrived with his family in the South Korean capital of Seoul, said ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee. "They are currently under government protection," Jeong told reporters at a news conference.
Jeong said Thae told South Korean officials he defected out of disgust with the government of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a desire for South Korean democracy and because of concern over his children's future.
It is believed Thae was stationed for ten years at North Korea's embassy in London, where he was responsible for managing the image of North Korea, which has been criticized for its nuclear weapons program and its human rights record. Thae is believed to be the most senior North Korean diplomat to defect to South Korea.
Australia Agrees to Shut Down PNG-Based Asylum Detainee Center
Australia has agreed to close its detention center for asylum seekers on Papua New Guinea's northern island of Manus.
The closure was announced Wednesday in a statement by PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, who said an agreement had been reached after meeting with Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton in Port Moresby. The Pacific island nation's supreme court ruled in April that the center was illegal, as it violated the detainees constitutional right of personal liberty.
The statement offered no timetable for the center's eventual closing.
More than 800 people are being held at the Manus detention center, and hundreds more at a second detention center on the island of Nauru, as part of Canberra's policy of intercepting people attempting to sail to Australia and seek asylum. The refugees are barred from resettling in Australia, even if they are granted refugee status.
Dutton issued a statement Wednesday reaffirming that policy and emphasizing that no one from the Manus Island center will ever be settled in Australia.