Teen North Korean defector confirmed to be a medalist at Hong Kong's International Mathematical Olympiad

Teen North Korean defector confirmed to be a medalist at Hong Kong's International Mathematical Olympiad

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Security is believed to have been stepped up at the Far East Finance Centre (in gold, centre) where the South Korean consulate is located.
Photo: David Wong/SCMP

[UPDATE - 5.03pm, July 28]

Alarm bells went off among the North Korean delegation to a math competition in Hong Kong after it was discovered that one of the students was missing, SCMP understands.

The contest closing ceremony was on July 15, and the male teenager went missing between late evening on July 16 and early morning on July 17.

Despite being one body short, the group, originally comprising six students and two teachers, left the city on July 19, via the Lo Wu checkpoint, before heading to Beijing. It was subsequently revealed that the missing student had defected and was seeking asylum.


A North Korean, thought to be a member of the International Mathematical Olympiad team, caused a stir today after seeking asylum in the South Korean consulate, media reported. Security around the consulate in the Far Eastern Financial centre was boosted as journalists poured in, looking for answers.

According to the contest website, the all-male team of six from the renegade state came sixth among the 109 countries in the competition that took place between July 9 and 16. They scored a total of 168 points, bagging two golds and four silvers, beating Hong Kong by three spots with a margin of seven points.

The team consisted of gold medal winners Ri Myong-hyok and Jon Kum-song and silver medalists Choe Un-song, Han Yu-song, Kim Il-jin and Ri Jong-yol.

Based on information on the website, Ri Myonghyok Ri and Jon had been outside of North Korea twice to compete in the Olympiad. Ri Jong-yol was a seasoned three-time competitor, while this was the first time at the event for the remaining three team members.

South Korean Consul General Kim Kwang-dong declined to comment on the issue. 

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