November 23, 2020

Top North Korean defector to testify in Congress

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By Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner From Business Insider

  • A defector will testify on Capitol Hill as top US officials, including President Donald Trump, are scheduled to visit in coming days.
  • Thae Yong-ho served as the second-highest ranking North Korean diplomat in the UK and is rumored to have special insight into the reclusive regime.

A top North Korean defector will testify on Capitol Hill next week as Congress mulls new ways to increase pressure on the rogue regime, a senior Republican announced.

Thae Yong-ho served as the second-highest ranking North Korean diplomat in the United Kingdom until last year, when he defected to South Korea. House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce touted his “valuable insights” into the vulnerabilities of dictator as the motivation for Wednesday’s hearing.

“As we intensify our efforts to counter North Korea’s nuclear threats, we must consider the full array of policy options at our disposal,” the California Republican said. “This hearing will be an opportunity to learn how best to apply maximum diplomatic and financial pressure on the Kim regime.”

The hearing will come just days after House lawmakers voted in favor of a new sanctions package designed to cut the economic lifelines that and some other countries have provided North Korea.

Thae could give Congress recommendations aimed at more effectively bringing about regime change in North Korea. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has disclaimed that ambition, however, in an attempt to set the stage of talks to negotiate an end to dictator Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program.

“North Korea is already on a slippery slope,” Thae said in a press conference following his defection. “The traditional structures of the North Korean system are crumbling.”

Thae has demonstrated some insight into North Korea’s workings in recent months. Hepredicted in March that the regime was planning to conduct an unprecedented nuclear test, detonating a bomb that would risk an environmental catastrophe. In September, the regime detonated a hydrogen bomb that raised concerns in China of the test site imploding and releasing major radiation.

His testimony might also influence a burgeoning congressional debate over whether the U.S. must impose broad sanctions on China in order to induce the world’s leading communist power to stop protecting North Korea. “We will examine the impact our sanctions are having, as well as our efforts to empower the North Korean people with the truth about Kim Jong Un’s brutal human rights abuses,” Royce said.

Read the original article on Washington Examiner. Copyright 2017. Follow Washington Examiner on Twitter.

IMAGE: Former North Korean deputy ambassador to the UK, Thae Yong Ho, center, speaks with media at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 25, 2017. Ed Jones/AP

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