Sept. 25 (UPI) -- A high-profile North Korean defector and lawmaker said a tougher South Korean response is needed in the wake of the slaying of a South Korean official in North Korea, following his disappearance at sea on Monday.
Thae Yong-ho, a member of the main opposition People Power Party, a conservative faction, said Friday at a meeting of the National Assembly's Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee that ruling party politicians are siding with North Korean perpetrators, News 1 and Newsis reported.
Thae's sharply worded remarks drew angry demands for an apology from Thae's opponents in parliament, according to reports.
"I do not doubt your intentions, but apologizing is the right thing to do after saying ruling party lawmakers are siding with the perpetrators, or siding with North Korea," said Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Jae-jung. "Apologizing should not be a source of shame."
Thae, who defected to the South in 2016 from Pyongyang's Embassy in London, said he is required to keep security personnel nearby because of the North Korean government.
"I am under constant threat of terror from North Korea," Thae said. "I cannot visit the restroom alone, or go outside my house. I depend on the government's security personnel and am getting by, day by day."
Thae also asked Unification Minister Lee In-young and Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha rhetorically whether a letter from Kim would be sufficient as an apology if he was "murdered in Seoul" or in broad daylight.
South Korean lawmaker Ahn Min-suk of the ruling party said Thae's statement suggesting his party sides with the North is "dangerous." Ahn defended the muted response from Seoul.
"No one ever said [in the Democratic Party] they were satisfied by Chairman Kim's letter," Ahn said.
On Friday, Thae also said Seoul needs to coordinate with the World Health Organization on the official's death. North Korea may have killed the man for fear of the coronavirus, according to local press reports.