July 30, 2010 12:04
The Japanese media are scrutinizing the hefty bill left behind by the red-carpet visit to Japan by Kim Hyun-hee, the sole surviving bomber of Korean Air passenger flight 858. The visit from July 20 to 23 cost 20 million yen (around W270 million).
The round-trip flight by private jet from Incheon International Airport to Haneda Airport was the most expensive part at 7 million yen. The 40-minute helicopter ride on the last day of her trip cost around 700,000 yen. On top of this there was the expenses of Kim's stay at the luxury Imperial Hotel in Tokyo on her last day, use of a Mercedes-Benz S-class sedan and other services. The 20 million yen does not include the cost of using former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's summer home.
The money was drawn from a 1.2 billion yen government budget for matters related to Japanese people abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 80s, though press reports also said some of the expenses may have been covered by a government account assigned to handle confidential issues.
There were reports that the Japanese government gave Kim a 50 million yen fee for the information she provided about Japanese abduction victims she claims to have met while being trained as a spy in the North. At a press conference on July 23, the minister of state for the abduction issue, Hiroshi Nakai, vehemently denied such reports and said the Japanese government had given her some game players for her children. But the Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Kim, who lives in a provincial town in South Korea with her husband and two children, is in financial straits due to the failure of her husband's business, hinting that she may have received a fee.
The Shukan Bunshun said Nakai's personal interest in female spies could have been the reason behind the red-carpet treatment Kim received during her trip. The weekly magazine reported that Nakai had his subordinates have been looking for photos of Russian spy Anna Chapman.
Some Japanese media say that the new information about Japanese abduction victims Kim claimed to offer may be a ruse to justify her visit. The only newsworthy piece of information she divulged was that she met Megumi Yokota, the woman who symbolizes the plight of the victims in Japan, in North Korea and they had Korean-style pancakes that Yokota made for her, although she was not sure when. Kim made the claim on July 21, the second day of her visit, when she met Yokota's parents in Hatoyama's summer home.
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