North Korea’s diplomats smuggled rhino horn
By Julian Rademeyer
Pretoria – A high-ranking North Korean diplomat accused of abusing his diplomatic immunity and his embassy’s diplomatic bag to smuggle rhino horn out of South Africa has been expelled from the country.
News24 has learnt that Park Chol-jun – also identified in some news reports as Pak Chol Chun – quietly left the country on December 11.
A spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco), Nelson Kgwete, did not name Park, but confirmed on Tuesday that the department had been “informed by the embassy” that “the official has returned” to North Korea.
News24 understands that the South African government last month gave Park – the embassy’s political councillor – a 30-day ultimatum to leave the country.
The North Korean embassy did not respond to emailed questions.
News24 first submitted questions about the expulsion to Dirco on 8 December – three days before Park left the country – but the department failed to respond for two weeks.
Park was arrested on May 3 in the Mozambican capital Maputo after 4.5kg of rhino horn and $99 300 in cash were found in a vehicle in which he was travelling. The car had diplomatic licence plates and was registered to the North Korean embassy in Pretoria.
Also allegedly arrested was a man identified as a respected North Korean Taekwon-Do master, Kim Jong Su.
Julian Rademeyer also spoke to Cape Talk and Talk Radio 702 about the diplomat’s expulsion. Listen to the podcast here: