Dutch ambassador helped Kim Jong-nam’s family find shelter

By Yi Whan-woo
Lody Embrechts

Dutch Ambassador to South Korea Lody Embrechts is believed to have played a key role in helping the family of Kim Jong-nam, the slain half-brother of North Korea’s ruler, to resettle and avoid Pyongyang’s possible assassination attempts.

Cheollima Civil Defense, an organization that posted a YouTube clip of Kim’s eldest son Kim Han-sol, Tuesday, gave special thanks to Embrechts for a “timely and strong response” in relocating the surviving family members secretly following Kim’s assassination in Malaysia, Feb. 13.

Kim’s family was believed to be under the protection of the Chinese government in Macau when Kim was murdered.

Cheollima Civil Defense purportedly has protected Kim Han-sol, his mother and sister, and helped them relocate to an unidentified country with support from the governments of the United States, China, the Netherlands and a fourth country that it did not disclose.

“We publicly express our gratitude for the emergency humanitarian assistance afforded to us in protecting this family by the governments of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the People’s Republic of China, the United States of America, and a fourth that will remain unnamed. We also recognize our colleagues who remain in the North or within its system who provide critical assistance in extracting such individuals,” Cheollima Civil Defense stated on its website. “In particular, we recognize Ambassador Embrechts, the representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, for his timely and strong response to our sudden request for assistance.”

Citing that Embrechts doubles as the Dutch ambassador to North Korea, the organization said he “is a credit to the people of the Netherlands and their long and principled stance for human rights and humanitarian norms.”

The Dutch Embassy in South Korea refused to confirm these claims.

In an email interview with Yonhap News Agency, Wednesday, Remco Breuker, a Korean studies professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands, speculated Embrechts made the “right decision” concerning helping Kim’s family to find a place to hide. Breuker said he and Embrechts have known each other for over 20 years.

Diplomatic sources said Embrechts has been open and friendly with South Korea, citing that his wife is a Korean and his level of Korean language proficiency is “quite good.”

He has been serving his ambassadorship in Seoul since February 2015.

This is the second time he has worked in South Korea. He previously worked at the Netherlands Embassy here as a commerce official from 1993 to 1997.

Some diplomatic sources speculated Kim’s family may have found shelter as refugees in the Netherlands.

“It’s possible Kim Han-sol wanted to go to the Netherlands considering he studied in Europe in the past,” a source said.

The sources also said South Korea may be the fourth country that helped the surviving family members move to an undisclosed location.

“Cheollima Civil Defense possibly did not reveal the name of the fourth country deliberately after considering the sensitive relations between the two Koreas,” it said.

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