North Korean defector emerges in Austria after 15 years

Kim Jong Ryul

Kim Jong Ryul

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A defector, who was once a member of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s political protection team, has suddenly emerged in Austria, 15 years after faking his own death. Kim Jong Ryul is an East German-trained engineer who returned to North Korea in 1970 to work for Kim Il Sung, whose government tasked him with translating nuclear documents and making secret trips to the West. However, on October 18, 1994, while on a government-sponsored trip to Bratislava, Slovakia, he disappeared without trace. The North Korean government presumed he had been killed. But Kim had actually entered Austria, where he lived for 15 years as a defector. On Thursday, he gave a press conference in Vienna to promote a book about his life, written by journalists Ingrid Steiner-Gashi and Dardan Gashi, who based it on over 80 hours of interviews with Kim. Titled Im Dienst des Diktators (At the Dictator’s Service), the book, which is currently available only in German, describes Kim’s frequent covert trips to Western Europe, where –posing as a business executive– he routinely procured luxury goods, scientific instruments, and even weapons, for the North Korean government. Interestingly, Kim carried out most of the smuggling with the help of Austrian import-export companies, who refrained from asking questions after being paid “a premium of 30 per cent” of the sales, according to Kim. German observers correctly point out that Kim’s emergence and revelations highlight Vienna’s importance as a European hub for North Korean intelligence –something which will hardly surprise regular intelNews readers.

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About intelNews
Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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