Thae Yong-ho, a NK diplomat based in London, defected from his workplace in august 2016. His defection is not fully a surprise as he was supposed to come back to Pyongyang. He refused to do this and therefore has no other choices than leaving UK and going abroad. Thae Yong-ho has also some health issues, which was an additional motivation to leave London.
Thae yong-ho worked in the past in Denmark. In June 2001, he was a member of a DPRK delegation in Belgium.
Thae Yong-ho, who served as minister at North Korea’s embassy in London, is believed to be the son of late four-star general Thae Pyong-ryol who actively took part in the anti-Japanese campaign, led by North Korea’s late founder Kim Il-sung.
Due to his background, Thae Yong-ho (born in 1961) was able to study at the Kim Il-sung University. He worked later at the NK embassy in Denmark, and Belgium. He’s based in UK since 2011. His wife, is five years younger than him.
According to South Korean medias, O Hye-son, Thae’s wife, is also known as a descendant of O Paek-ryong who also joined the anti-Japanese guerrilla activities with the communist country’s founder, according to another source. The senior O died at the age of 70 in 1984.She is believed to be a close relative of O Kum-chol, vice chief of the KPA General Staff, who is the son of O Peak-ryong.
Thae Yong-ho is different from the most famous and publicly known defectors for the following reasons:
First he’s speaking english and therefore, his knowledge about North Korea maybe made quickly available. Other famous North Korean defectors (Hwang Jang-yop (passed away in 2010), Ko Young-hwan,…) usually do not speak english.
Secondly Thae Yong-ho is open to medias. He recently did some interviews with Korean and non-korean medias, inviting other diplomats to defect. There I expect mass defections from North Korean diplomats. His openess was also remarkable due to the fact that he defected only a few months ago
Thirdly Thae Yong-ho worked also in illegal activities (like every diplomat). His responsibility may be questioned, however his knowledge on these issues will be for sure remarkable.
Finally Thae has a knowledge about the Kim family being also a member of the three clans (the Kim clan, the O clan, and the Choe clan) which rules over North Korea. Other famous defectors were not related to the Kim family as he used to be especially in the recent times (for example Kang Myong-do).
Therefore I consider that he will be much more surveiled than other famous North Korean defectors.