Defector returns to blow up monuments, North says

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Defector returns to blow up monuments, North says

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A North Korean defector, arrested by the North for allegedly attempting to destroy key communist statues, has said he was ordered by South Korean and U.S. intelligence to launch the attacks, claims flatly denied by Seoul.

Earlier in the week, the North said it had arrested North Korean defectors who planned to destroy statues of North Korea’s leadership.

The communist country accused South Korea’s intelligence unit and the U.S. of masterminding the plot and inserting defectors into the North.

In a televised news conference held Thursday in Pyongyang, the North identified a middle-aged man named Jon Yong-chol as one of the arrested terrorist suspects and aired the man’s account of how the attack was conceived and arranged.

In the conference, which the North said was attended by foreign correspondents and covered by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, Jon claimed he was persuaded by a group of North Korean defectors in the South, the South’s spy unit and the U.S. to go back into the communist country to launch the attacks.

Jon said he was first approached by a defector named Kim Song-min who heads an anti-North group in South Korea. Kim persuaded him to work for a defectors’ organization that was set up to launch attacks on the statues of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung.

Jon later met two South Korean intelligence agents and was promised remote-controlled explosives for the mission, he claimed.

“I set February as the month for demolition, but the ‘undertaking’ had to be postponed until April as the explosive device was not prepared,” he said. An attack in April “would spoil the atmosphere for celebrations of the Day of the Sun,” Jon quoted South Korean agents as saying, in reference to centenary celebrations of the birthday of Kim Il Sung.

“However, the ‘undertaking’ slated for April had to be postponed again because the explosive device was still not ready,” he added. He said he was caught while loitering in a North Korean city bordering China in the early morning of June 19.

In the conference, Jon said he had defected to the South in 2010 and stayed in the South Korea’s re-education institution for defectors.

A day after the North’s accusation, the South Korean spy unit identified the defector as a 52-year-old of the same name who came here in November, 2010. He spent three months in the rehabilitation facility before settling down in a town in Gangwon Province, west of Seoul, the unit said.

However, the North’s accusations over the South Korean intelligence service’s involvement are groundless, a spy agency official said. “The spy agents whom Jon identified at the conference do not even exist.”

Another government official also denied the terrorist attempt accusations, saying “Kim Song-min, who Jon accused of being involved, said he is not aware [of it].”

“The accusations falsely blamed on the South seem to be aiming at diverting the source [of the alleged demolition attempts] outside of the country, mainly in order to solidify internal unity,” said another government official.

Yonhap

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