N. Korea replaced 'missing' Rome diplomat in November

Indo Asian News Service

Seoul, Jan 4 (IANS) North Korea replaced its top envoy in Rome in November, Italian diplomatic authorities said on Friday, while remaining guarded about whether it's linked with a reported asylum bid by a Pyongyang diplomat.

The confirmation came a day after reports emerged of North Korean ambassador to Italy, Jo Song-gil, "disappearing" in November.

An official at the Italian embassy in Seoul said Jo, who had served as charges d'affaires of the North's mission in Rome since October 2017, was replaced on November 20, Yonhap news agency reported.

Jo was replaced by Kim Chon, the official added. It remained unclear whether Kim had already been working at the embassy or was newly dispatched.

Jo disappeared in early November with his family after leaving the embassy, a South Korean lawmaker said on Thursday after being briefed by the country's state intelligence agency on the matter.

A Seoul-based newspaper had reported that Jo was seeking asylum in a Western nation. He was nearing the end of his stint in Rome when he vanished.