An 18-year-old North Korean defector is suspected to have arrived in Seoul after spending two months at the South Korean consulate in Hong Kong. The news about the teenager's travel was revealed by a local news agency after he left Hong Kong.
In July, Jong Yol-ri is thought to have arrived at the South Korean diplomatic mission in the city-state seeking political asylum. He was supposed to take part in the International Mathematical Olympiad before he decided to defect.
The Hong Kong news agency Factwire, as cited by multiple outlets, published images and videos of the maths prodigy showing how Jong spent his days inside the consulate. Diplomatic sources were even quoted as saying that Jong was given video games to pass time. Earlier reports in other media outlets speculated that Jong had already left Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous region heavily controlled by China, in August but this turned out to be untrue.
South Korean officials have not yet made any official comment on the matter. Security around the South Korean diplomatic post, which is located in Admiralty, was heightened since Jong sought refuge there. Round-the-clock surveillance was put in place around the facility.
It is rare for North Koreans to travel abroad and several people have defected to foreign missions in the past. The latest incident has come when the rival Koreas have begun to step up their combative tone putting the Korean peninsula in a state of high tension.
This is also the latest in a string of defections that have occurred in the recent past. These defections take place despite the country's leader Kim Jong-un's best efforts to tighten his grip on North Korea.