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North Korean diplomat implicated in fatal car accident in China

The envoy was returning from a celebration of the North’s satellite launch.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Feb. 19, 2016 at 12:56 PM
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BEIJING, Feb. 19 (UPI) -- A North Korean diplomat returning from a dinner celebrating the launch of Pyongyang's earth observation satellite was involved in a car accident that killed at least three people in the Chinese city of Dandong.

The consular official, affiliated with the Dandong branch of the North Korean Consulate in Shenyang, China, is accused of driving while intoxicated, when the accident occurred Feb. 7, Radio Free Asia reported.

The number of casualties ranged from two to three people, including a taxi driver, but the diplomat reportedly survived.

The accident occurred when the North Korean official allegedly veered across the median separating opposing traffic lanes. Footage from South Korean television network SBS showed what appeared to be the North Korean's mangled black Mercedes Benz, and a badly damaged red taxicab in the aftermath of the accident.

A source that spoke to RFA on the condition of anonymity said Chinese law would require about $76,000 in compensation per victim, and that the consulate is raising money using its trading arm in Dandong.

Another source said the accident has left the residents of Dandong "indignant," and an eyewitness gave an account to a local television station.

At least one incident involving drunken North Korean officials in China has occurred before in Shanghai, a source at the city said.

In September 2015, an intoxicated North Korean trading firm staff member was investigated after he allegedly assaulted a taxi driver during a dispute over cab fare.

The source said the Shanghai-based officer was affiliated with the Korean Workers' Party's Office 39, which has in the past been associated with the management of Pyongyang's illicit funds.

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