North Korea names new ambassador to Britain after high-level defection

November 3, 2016 5:15 AM EDT

A passengers walks past a TV broadcasting a news report on Thae Yong Ho, North Korea's deputy ambassador in London, who has defected with his family to South Korea, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, August 18, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

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SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea on Thursday said it had appointed a new ambassador to the United Kingdom, more than two months after the embassy's number-two diplomat defected to South Korea, in an embarrassing blow for the regime of leader Kim Jong Un.

The North's official KCNA news agency said the new ambassador is Choe Il, whom South Korean media have previously reported was a senior official in the country's foreign ministry.

KCNA's one-line statement did not mention a new role for Pyongyang's incumbent ambassador in London, Hyon Hak Bong.

In August, South Korea announced that Thae Yong Ho, the number-two official in the North's London embassy, had defected with his family to the South, making him the highest ranking diplomat to flee the isolated regime for the democratic South.

Thae has yet to appear in public since his arrival in South Korea.

(This story has been refiled to fix Hyon's name in paragraph 3)

(Reporting by Tony Munroe; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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