N. Korea ambassador in Italy disappears, says South

Seoul: A senior North Korean diplomat stationed in Italy has disappeared with his wife since he left the North’s embassy in November last year, South Korea’s spy agency said on Thursday.

Jo Song-gil, the North’s acting ambassador to Italy, left the country’s embassy in Rome days before his term ended in late November, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) was quoted as saying by Representative Kim Min-ki, a ruling party lawmaker.

JoongAng Ilbo, a Seoul-based daily, said the 48-year-old envoy applied for personal security protection with the Italian government in early December as he was seeking asylum.

“The NIS has not attempted to contact Jo or not received any contact from him for the past two months,” the spy agency was quoted as saying by Kim.

The agency also stopped short of confirming that Jo was attempting to gain asylum for a third country, Yonhap news agency.

“We cannot confirm it,” the NIS said in response to questions such as how many children the North Korean diplomat had or which country was protecting Jo and his wife, according to Kim.

The Italian Foreign Ministry told the BBC that it had no record of an asylum request made by Jo.