Kim Jong-un’s grip on North Korea fading as defector claims ‘the door is open’

Kim Jong-un 's tight grip on North Korea could be loosening as another top official has escaped his rule.

Ryu Hyun-woo, the secretive state's acting ambassador to Kuwait has become the latest high-profile figure to defect to South Korea, Reuters reports.

The move will prove to be a pivotal moment in showing the nation's elite that a new life is available to them south of the border, according to Tae Yong-ho, North Korea’s former deputy ambassador to Britain.

Ryu took over So Chang-sik at North Korea’s embassy in Kuwait in 2017 after So was expelled on the back of a 2017 UN resolution aiming to scale back the country’s overseas diplomatic missions.

Tae who defected himself in 2016 and was elected as a lawmaker in South Korea last year, said Ryu moved in September.

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Kuwait where Ryu had been North Korea's acting ambassador to, had been a key source of foreign currency for Pyongyang, which sent thousands of labourers there, mostly for construction projects.

Tae said Ryu is the son-in-law of Jon Il-chun, who once oversaw a Worker’s party bureau responsible for managing the ruling Kim family’s secret coffers, known as Room 39.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service declined to comment.

Ryu’s defection could symbolise a shift among North Korea's most influential circles, who Kim Jong-un relies upon for support.

Yet Tae claims this power base has been drifting away from the leader him slowly but constantly.

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Ryu fled several months after Jo Song-gil, who was North Korea’s acting ambassador to Italy, vanished with his wife from the embassy and resurfaced in South Korea.

Tae told Reuters the knowledge and experiences of the outside world gained as a diplomat had fostered disillusionment among his family, and he decided to escape to “give freedom” to his children, calling for other officials to follow suit.

He said: “I want to deliver to my colleagues working around the world and North Korean elites that there is an alternative to North Korea, and the door is open.”

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