Posted by on January 3, 2019 5:49 am
Categories: News µ Newsjones

REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

ROME—North Korea’s acting ambassador to Italy, Jo Song-gil, was supposed to go back home when his mandate ended in late November. He had been stationed in Italy since 2015 and was named as acting ambassador when Italy kicked out his predecessor Mun Jong-nam in October 2017 in response to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test. Instead of returning directly to North Korea when his gig was up in November, the acting ambassador reportedly took a little Italian vacation, which he’d apparently like to extend for life, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news service, which first reported what appears to be a high level defection.

“Italian authorities are reportedly protecting the 48-year-old Jo and his family at a safe place,” the news agency reports. “It was not immediately clear if Jo had expressed a desire to go to South Korea.”

The defection, if confirmed, puts Italy in a precarious situation. Granting such political asylum could cause a rift between the ruling government and the United States. South Korean newspaper Joong Ang Libo reported that the ambassador made his application in early December after being recalled to North Korea for reassignment. The paper claimed that Italian security agencies were protecting the diplomatic family in an undisclosed location and that Italian authorities were “agonizing” about whether to grant asylum to Jo and his family. Some reports indicate that they are hoping that he is granted asylum by another European nation.

Read more at The Daily Beast.