A defector from North Korea has taken his own life after a failed defection attempt to China, Radio Free Asia reports.
The man, identified as Hyun Cheol Huh, is said to be in his 50s. He was a researcher and a nuclear scientist at the physics center of the State Academy of Sciences in Pyongyang.
Hyun was one of several other North Koreans who were detained in Shenyang on Nov. 4. He was sent back to North Korea on Nov. 17. However, he took poison soon after he was transferred to a detention center in the North Korean State Security Department in Sinuiju, near the Chinese border.
"He died before he could be questioned about the reasons for his escape, who had helped him and what his route had been," an insider told RFA, adding the defector did not disclose to Chinese authorities that he was a nuclear scientist.
“If the Chinese government had known who he was, they would have wanted to learn what he knew and would never have sent him back."
The source also said Hyun was searched multiple times on his way from China to Sinuiju City so it remains unclear how he took the poison with him.
Hyun took a medical leave for his work before fleeing "because he was showing signs of anxiety over his research projects," the insider added.
He carried fake documents and disappeared when he learned security personnel were looking for him.
Authorities are now probing how Hyun crossed the Yalu river into China, which led him to meet other defectors.