2 Spies Held in Plot to Kill Senior N.Korean Defector

      April 21, 2010 08:27

      Hwang Jang-yop /Yonhap

      Two North Korean agents have been arrested after sneaking into South Korea disguised as refugees to assassinate an octogenarian former secretary of the North Korean Workers' Party Central Committee who defected to the South in 1997. The agents, from the Reconnaissance Bureau of the North's People's Armed Forces, had orders to kill Hwang Jang-yop (87), prosecutors said Tuesday.

      The National Intelligence Service and the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office on Tuesday arrested Maj. Kim Myong-ho (36) and Maj. Tong Myong-kwan (36) on a warrant from the Seoul Central District Court.

      According to prosecutors, Kim and Tong arrived in Yanji in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in the Chinese province of Jilin after crossing the North Korea-China border in November last year. They met up with other North Korean agents and received mobile phones and operational funds at a liaison office of the Reconnaissance Bureau there.

      Afterwards, they pretended to defect and traveled all the way to Thailand with the help of local brokers. They were arrested by Thai police and handed over to the South Korean embassy. Deported from Thailand, they arrived in South Korea in January and February and were questioned by the NIS.

      But their stories did not check out since both gave false names and places of birth. Under interrogation, they confessed to being spies.

      Prosecutors said the two admitted to having orders from Kim Yong-chol, the bureau director, to file a report about Hwang Jang-yop's activities including the location of his home, and to cut off his head.

      They were ordered to escape to the North Korean embassy in a third country and await further instructions if they failed to accomplish their mission.

      The Reconnaissance Bureau was launched last year, when several agencies dealing with operations against the South were merged.

      Kim and Tong were chosen as special agents in 2004 and received intensive training to infiltrate South Korea and assassinate VIPs, prosecutors said.

      The two refused to say what else they had planned, but the NIS is investigating if there are any other North Korean spies already active in the South they were to contact here.

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