Seoul claims a high-ranking North Korean has defected to the South

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In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks at the ruling party congress in Pyongyang, North Korean, Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – South Korean lawmakers say a North Korean diplomat who served as the country’s acting ambassador to Kuwait has defected to the South.

The lawmakers say they were told by the National Intelligence Service that the diplomat arrived in South Korea in September 2019 with his wife and at least one child.

That would make him one of the most senior North Koreans to defect in recent years.

North Korea, which touts itself as a socialist paradise, is extremely sensitive about defections, especially among its elite, and has sometimes insisted that they are South Korean or American plots to undermine its government.

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