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N.K. defector joins S. Korea’s spy agency

A North Korean defector who formerly served as a key member of Pyongyang’s youth organization was recently appointed a researcher of an organization affiliated with Seoul’s spy agency, a source said Tuesday.

The defector, Sol Jong-sik, who had headed the Yanggang Province for the League of Kim Il-sung Socialist Working Youth before defecting to South Korea in 2009, is the highest-ranking North Korean to flee to the South after the late Hwang Jang-yop. Hwang who died last year, was the architect of North Korea’s guiding “juche (self-reliance)” philosophy.

The league, named after North Korea’s late founder, is reportedly a nationwide organization set up to mobilize and train young North Koreans in their teens and 20s, and publish a propaganda newspaper for them.

Sol, 41, was recently named a researcher at the Institute for National Security Strategy, which is run by South Korea’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, according to the source, which asked not to be named.

Sol will be in charge of analyzing the circumstances in his former communist homeland and setting up strategies on how to deal with North Korea, the unnamed source said. Sol is not the only defector to be working at the security institute in southern Seoul, the source added.

Nearly 22,000 North Koreans have defected here since the Korean War, braving the dangerous escape from the regime and its fierce crackdowns as well as China, which as a policy of repatriating North Koreans despite the harsh punishment that awaits them.

Sol is not the only defector to be appointed a senior post in Seoul.

In June, Cho Myung-chul, former professor at North Korea’s top Kim Il Sung University, was named the head of the Education Center for Unification, the highest government post to be taken by a North Korean defector. Cho defected in 1994.

By Shin Hae-in (