A large number of high-level North Korean diplomats are eager to defect to South Korea from their overseas positions in Europe, claims Pyongyang's former deputy ambassador to London who defected to Seoul last year.
Thae Yong Ho defected to South Korea in August 2016, the highest ranking diplomat ever to do so. He was responsible for promoting the image of Pyongyang among the public in Britain, where he lived for 10 years. It has been reported that his decision to defect was mainly because he was under increasing pressure to tell people that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was being misreported in the media.
Since then, he has been speaking to the local media in Seoul about his defection and his life as a North Korean envoy.
He said more elite diplomats have already fled to South Korea, but the incidents have not been made public.
Speaking at an event in South Korea's parliamentary building, he said: "There will be an increase in the number of elite-class defectors seeking a better life. I am the only high-ranking official whose identity has been revealed to the public. South Korean media do not know but North Korean diplomats are all aware of it," Seoul-based news agency Yonhap reported.
Thae said North Korea is not a genuine communist country but only a "slave society" that is based on hereditary succession.
"The concept of proletarian dictatorship is long gone in North Korea. It has instead become a single gigantic slave society that exists only for the Kim family," he said.
Thae also claimed that unlike his late father, Kim Jong Il, the current head of state, is facing challenges as he did not have enough time to prepare for the succession in 2011.
While Thae defected to Seoul, his wife and his two university-age sons, who were living with him London, are reportedly due to return to North Korea.