Senior N.Korean Defector Lives with Constant Threat to His Life

      April 21, 2010 12:02

      The life of Hwang Jang-yop, a former secretary of the North Korean Workers' Party and now head of the Committee for Democratization of North Korea, has been under threat since his defection to South Korea in 1997. Prosecutors on Tuesday said they foiled a plot by two North Korean spies to assassinate him.

      Because Hwang is the no. 1 target of North Korean terrorist attack, he has been guarded by seven or eight bodyguards at all times. His plans to visit the United States and Japan were kept secret even from his closest acquaintances.

      In a recent meeting with executives of the committee after his visits to the U.S. and Japan, Hwang reportedly proposed that North Korean defectors should help the South investigate the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan. An acquaintance said although Hwang dismissed the need to respond to threats from North Korea, he warned defectors "need to closely observe North Korea's policy regarding defectors, which has become tougher as our capacity to influence North Korea has increased." Hwang also expressed concern about some North Korean defectors who appear to have been kidnapped by North Koreans in the China-North Korea border region in recent months.

      Hwang has received a number of threats from North Korea. Each time, he said the threat should either be ignored or the South should take firm action. Hwang recently said, "Defectors should unite to confront Kim Jong-il. Kim's chief opponent is not South Korea but the North Korean defectors." One way to do it, he said, is more active government support for North Korean defectors' efforts to democratize North Korea, and leaving some of the opposition activities to defectors.

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