(Yonhap) — South Korea said Tuesday it has no knowledge of a reported request for asylum by one of the close aides of the recently purged uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
North Korea confirmed Monday that Jang Song-thaek had been removed from all posts, accusing him of corruption and womanizing. Pyongyang’s state television also released photos of Jang being arrested during a party meeting.
Citing intelligence on the execution of two close aides to Jang, Seoul’s National Intelligence Service first reported the purge last week, stoking media reports that one of Jang’s aides fled to China and is seeking asylum in South Korea.
On Tuesday, Seoul’s Munwha Ilbo newspaper, citing an unidentified source, reported that one of Chang’s aides who was in charge of managing North Korea’s foreign income and slush funds escaped to China between late September and early October and that his request for travel to South Korea for asylum has been rejected by China.
During a parliamentary committee, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said he had not heard of such a request for asylum by an aide to Jang.
Other South Korean officials also disavowed any knowledge of the reported asylum bid.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said his ministry was unaware of such a request for asylum. “As far as I know there has been none,” he said in a media briefing.
Another high-ranking government source also denied any knowledge of such an application.
“I haven’t heard of it, and the government is not involved in any diplomatic consultations over a close aide of Jang,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.