>> A senior North Korean diplomat may have defected in London. South Korea's JoongAng Ilbo newspaper says an official has sought asylum in a third country. The BBC later naming the defector as Deputy Ambassador Thae Yong Ho. No comments so far from the North Korean embassy located in this modest suburban house in West London.
Reuters Korea's correspondent James Pearson in Seoul has been looking into what we know about Thae.>> He seems to have defected along with his family, who were with him. We don't know where he's gone yet. But he was a very high level ranking diplomat who was also fairly well known on the far left scene in London, speaking at the UK Communist Party events.
And it was very debonair and articulate member of the diplomatic community in London.>> Now, the news will increase scrutiny of all the country's citizens living abroad. It comes off to 12 waitresses after North Korean restaurant in China defect its earlier this year. Signs too of a change in the type of defectors.
>> Under kingdom in defect in numbers in general to South Korea have pretty much halved. In the last year there's been a slight uptake. But what we have noticed is that there have been a lot more high level defections in the last 1-2 years or so. People were defecting from embassies or overseas positions of some kind of significance.
This is in some contrast to the usual kind of defectors you get which are from very rural parts of North Korea, which are very, very close to the border with China.>> Diplomats are not the only high profile North Koreans overseas right now though. In Rio the country's athletes, including gold medal gymnast Ri Se-gwang, are likely being kept under a very close watch.