SEOUL – The teenage daughter of a senior North Korean security official has escaped to the South in a rare defection by a member of the privileged elite, a Seoul activist said Monday.
The 19-year-old, identified by her surname, Han, is the daughter of a Ministry of Public Security official responsible for police operations in Pyongyang, the rights activist who helped her escape said.
Han had been studying at a college in Beijing when she fled to the South after crossing to a third country in May, said the activist.
Since arriving in Seoul, Han has been undergoing screening by South Korea’s intelligence authorities, the activist added.
While many flee from poverty and repression, defections by members of Pyongyang’s elite — who enjoy significant social and financial privileges — are comparatively rare.
Elsewhere, near the two nations’ border Monday, South Korean troops shot and killed a man trying to swim across a border river into the North after he ignored warnings, a Defense Ministry spokesman said.
“He jumped into the Imjin River ignoring repeated warnings to stop by South Korean soldiers,” the spokesman said. “The soldiers opened fire and his body has been retrieved.”
The spokesman said the man was believed to be trying to defect to the North, but added that his identity had yet to be confirmed.