World

Defector says elite increasingly turning against Kim Jong Un

SEOUL: The North Korean elite are outwardly expressing their discontent towards young leader Kim Jong Un and his government, the totalitarian state's former deputy ambassador to London said. One reason is that more outside information is trickling in.

Mr Thae Yong Ho defected to South Korea last August and has been speaking to the media since December.

"When Kim Jong Un first came to power, I was hopeful that he would make reasonable and rational decisions to save North Korea from poverty, but I soon fell into despair watching him purging officials for no proper reason," Mr Thae said during his first news conference with foreign media yesterday.

DISSENT

He said: "Low-level dissent or criticism of the regime, until recently unthinkable, is becoming more frequent.

"We have to spray gasoline on North Korea, and let the North Korean people set fire to it."

Mr Thae, 54, has said publicly that dissatisfaction with Kim Jong Un prompted him to flee his post. His two sons and wife also defected with him.

He is the most senior official to have fled North Korea for the South since 1997.

Today's North Korean system had "nothing to do with true communism", Mr Thae said, adding that the elite, like himself, had watched with unease as countries such as Cambodia and Vietnam embraced economic and social reforms. - REUTERS

politicsNorth Koreapresident