Indictment in Hwang assassins case

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Indictment in Hwang assassins case

Two North Korean agents sent to South Korea to assassinate Hwang Jang-yop, the highest-ranking official ever to defect from Pyongyang, were indicted yesterday.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office indicted two North Koreans, Kim, 36, and Tong, 36, on charges of coming to South Korea, posing as North Korean defectors, to assassinate Hwang under an order by the spy agency of the North’s Ministry of People’s Armed Forces.

Hwang, 87, who used to be ranked the 24th most powerful person in the North, defected to the South in February 1997 by taking refuge in the South Korean consulate in Beijing. Since his defection, Hwang has faced numerous assassination threats.

Hwang is the architect of juche, the self-reliance ideology of the North Korean regime, and was Kim Jong-il’s teacher at Kim Il Sung University.

Kim and Tong allegedly came to South Korea last December, by way of China and Thailand. According to prosecutors, the two said they were ordered to keep a close eye on Hwang and report back a detailed plan to assassinate him. Also, the two said that the spy agency told them that even if Hwang was dying of old age, he must not be allowed to die naturally.

Second lieutenants Kim and Tong were made members of the spy agency in September 1992, prosecutors said. They entered South Korea posing as distant relatives of Hwang.

It is not the first time that North Korea has made an attempt to assassinate a senior North Korean defector. Lee Han-yong, a nephew of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s ex-wife, Song Hye-rim, was killed in South Korea in 1997. At the time, no suspect was arrested, but the National Intelligence Service concluded that Lee was murdered by the North’s agents.


By Cho Jae-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]

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