Choe In-guk at Pyongyang Airport giving a statement on his defection to North Korea. (Image via Uriminzokkiri)

A Rare Case: South Korean Man Just Defected to North Korea

A son of two high-profile South Koreans has defected to the North and arrived in Pyongyang on Sunday (7/7), a North Korea’s state-run media reports.

Choe In-guk, 73, said that it is her parents’ dying wish that he follows their lead to move to the fatherland, as Choe’s parents also defected from South Korea to the North in 1986. Choe added that he moved to the communist North for good; to work toward the reunification of the two Koreas and thank the Great Leader of ruling Kim Dynasty for the great love and compassion that they had given to his family. He announced to resettle permanently there.

His arrival in Pyongyang was highly anticipated and welcomed by the local media. A propaganda news portal Uriminzokkiri posted photos of Choe at Pyongyang Airport, wearing a Western suit and a flat cap while accepting a bouquet of flowers. Choe also gave a speech to media from a prepared statement.

In the past, South Koreans defecting to North Korea occasionally happened, but since the great famine hit the North in the mid-1990s, it is now becoming a rarity in recent years especially since South Korea’s economy has grown faster to the 4th largest in Asia.

Under South Korea’s regulations, citizens who wish to visit North Korea are legally required to request permission from the authorities. However, Choe had not requested permission to enter the North and may be arrested by the government if he returns to South Korea.

Choe is a son of late Choe Tok-sin and Ryu Mi-yong. His father was a former foreign minister of South Korea serving during the 1960s and ambassador in West Germany. Before his official defection to North Korea in 1986, Choe senior and his wife emigrated to the US in 1976.

Seeing how Choe’s defection was accepted by North Korea and publicly announced his decision, analysts argue that the secretive regime tries to use him as a propaganda tool to tell its citizens that its system is superior to South Korea's.

The South Korean government is reported to still investigate Choe’s exact motive defecting to North Korea.