Defector-turned-lawmaker tapped to lead parliamentary foreign affairs committee

SEOUL– Rep. Tae Yong-ho, a North Korean defector-turned-lawmaker of the ruling People Power Party (PPP), was appointed the PPP’s leader at the parliamentary foreign affairs and unification committee Monday.

Underlining the importance of bipartisan commitment in foreign affairs and security, Tae said he will closely cooperate with his counterpart from the main opposition Democratic Party to run the committee smoothly.

“They often say there is no ruling and opposition party when it comes to foreign affairs and security. This is because they agree that parties can exist only when a country exists,” Tae said. “I will communicate with the Democratic Party’s committee leader Rep. Lee Jae-jung for the committee’s smooth operations.”

Tae, who formerly served as a No. 2 diplomat at North Korea’s Embassy in London, defected to South Korea in August 2016.

In 2020, he was elected to the National Assembly as the main conservative opposition United Future Party’s candidate in Seoul’s southern affluent district of Gangnam, becoming the first person hailing from the communist nation to be chosen directly by South Korean voters as their representative.

Tae’s appointment is seen as symbolic because it means someone from North Korea will be leading the ruling party in the key National Assembly committee that handles legislation related to diplomacy and unification, and conducts oversight over the foreign and unification ministries.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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