A group of North Korean students in France has been missing for more than two weeks amid fears they have been caught in an international spy case.
The missing students reportedly include the son of an aide to the disgraced uncle of current North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.
The young man, identified only as Han, was in Paris with nine fellow countrymen to study at a prestigious Architecture university, the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Paris-La Villette (ENSAPLV).
Staff at the institute last saw him early in November, while his companions vanished shortly afterwards.
"I asked other students and faculty members about Han's whereabouts but nobody has seen him at least for the past 15 days," a university official told Yonhap.
French police visited ENSAPLV over the disappearance last week, France's RFI radio reported.
What happened to the other students is also unknown, but South Korean media cited unnamed security sources as saying that Han was snatched by Pyongyang secret agents outside the university.
He then managed to escape while he was being ferried to an airport and is now in hiding, according to the source, with some reports speculating he sought help at the South Korean embassy.
Han had ties to Jang Song-thaek, a powerful ally to Kim's father Kim Jong-Il who was recently purged by the new supreme leader. Han's father was also purged.
Jang was accused of abuse of power and promiscuity and subsequently executed. His demise made international headlines in January after it was initially reported he was stripped naked and fed to starving dogs.
The reported was later dismissed as fake, with North Korean officials saying he was actually shot dead.
Reports from the secretive nation are impossible to confirm and often suffer from South Korean sensationalism.
ENSAPLV has been hosting North Korean students since the early 2000s, as part of a government-planned exchange program to ease cultural ties between Paris and Pyongyang, as the two countries do not have official diplomatic relations.
No one at the university was available for a comment as IBTimes UK published.