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North Korea Demands Return of ‘Human Scum’ Diplomat

A sales assistant watches TV sets broadcasting a news report on Thae Yong Ho, North Korea's deputy ambassador in London, who has defected with his family to South Korea, in Seoul, South Korea, Aug. 18, 2016.

North Korea has ordered the return of their diplomat who defected to South Korea this week, calling him a criminal and "human scum" on state media Saturday.

Thae Yong Ho, North Korea's deputy ambassador to Britain, had embezzled huge sums of money, raped a minor, and spied for South Korea, Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in the first public response to the defection.

Pyongyang also criticized Britain for allowing Thae to defect, claiming it had informed Britain of his record and had asked for his extradition.

Thae told South Korean officials he defected out of disgust with the government of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a desire for South Korean democracy and because of concern over his children's future.

It is believed Thae was stationed for 10 years at North Korea's embassy in London, where he was responsible for managing the image of North Korea, which has been criticized for its nuclear weapons program and its human rights record. Thae is believed to be the second most senior North Korean diplomat to defect to South Korea.

The most senior North Korean government official to defect to the South was Hwang Jang-yop, a top ruling Worker's Party official who sought asylum in 1997.

Defections from North Korea have been in the headlines lately, primarily due to the April defection of a group of waitresses and their manager who were employed at a North Korean restaurant in China.