New reports out of Asia are now indicating that a North Korean nuclear scientist killed himself last month after a failed attempt at defecting through neighboring China.
Local news outlets have reported the man’s name as Hyun Cheol Huh, though the North Korean government has yet to acknowledge the incident, nor have they confirmed the man’s identity. It is currently believed that he was a nuclear researcher at the physics center in the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital city.
Hyun apparently kept his occupation a secret when he was found by Chinese authorities, then opted to take his own life via poisoning once it was clear that he was going to be returned to North Korea. Once back inside the reclusive state, Hyun likely faced a life sentence in North Korea’s notorious labor camps – a fate he would potentially share with any parents, siblings, spouses or children he may have, under North Korea’s three-generation punishment system.
“He killed himself only a few hours after he was placed in solitary confinement at the State Security Department in Sinuiju city,” a source told RFA, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “He died before he could be questioned about the reasons for his escape, and what his route had been.”