3 indicted for plotting with Pyongyang to make drugs

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3 indicted for plotting with Pyongyang to make drugs

South Korean prosecutors said Sunday that three of its citizens have been indicted for plotting with Pyongyang to smuggle methamphetamine into the South and attempting to assassinate a renowned defector critical of the North’s Communist regime.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office announced that a 62-year-old delivery person, a 68-year-old unemployed individual and a 56-year-old distribution industry worker were detained for allegedly violating the domestic Narcotics Control Act.

The 62-year-old was additionally indicted for breaching the National Security Act by acting as a secret agent for the North.

The names and genders of the suspects were withheld.

The prosecution said over the weekend that the group is suspected of funneling the raw materials and manufacturing equipment required for producing methamphetamine to North Korea via China in July 2000. They were then alleged to have illegally crossed borders into the North to produce 70 kilograms (154 pounds) of the drug before bringing it into South Korea.

Evidence that the drugs were distributed throughout the South has yet to be found.

One of the three suspects was further indicted for conspiracy to murder Hwang Jang-yop, the highest-ranking North Korean to defect to the South. Hwang was the chief ideologue of the North and a former teacher of Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il, before his 1997 defection.

Hwang, who was the former chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly, North Korea’s parliament, died of a heart attack on Oct. 10, 2010, at the age of 87.

Seoul prosecutors said the 62-year-old South Korean initially came into contact with a North Korean spy in September 2009 in Beijing and continued to meet that agent on 10 more occasions to discuss the homicide plan.

The South Korean was said to have been offered $40,000 for the task.

To prepare for the assassination, the 62-year-old is suspected to have handed over photographs he or she took of Hwang’s residence in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, to the North Korean spy. The person is also thought to have tried to hire criminal gang members for the actual murder.

The entire plan fell through when Hwang died unexpectedly at his house.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, PARK MIN-JE [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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