Senior North Korean Diplomat Defected To South: Reports
"I decided to defect because I wanted to offer my child a better future," the Maeil Business newspaper cited Ryu as saying.
According to reports, Ryu is the son-in-law of Jon Il Chun, the former head of Office 39, which manages the secret funds of the North Korean leadership.
Tae Yong-ho, another high-profile defector who fled his post as North Korea's deputy ambassador to Britain in 2016 and was elected a South Korean opposition MP last year, described Ryu as part of Pyongyang's "core elite".
But he added: "No matter how privileged your life is in North Korea, your mind changes when you go abroad and draw comparisons." The North has tightened border security as part of its defences against the coronavirus, and the number of arrivals to the South plummeted last year.
Inter-Korean relations have been in a deep freeze following the collapse of a summit in Hanoi between Kim and former US president Donald Trump in 2019 over what the nuclear-armed North would be willing to give up in exchange for a loosening of sanctions.