Seoul arrests N. Korean defector for ‘planning assassination’

Park Sang-hak

Park Sang-hak

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
South Korean authorities have announced the arrest of a North Korean defector, who is accused of planning to assassinate another defector involved in intensive propaganda operations against the North. A man identified only as “Ahn” was reportedly detained earlier this month after arranging a meeting with Park Sang-hak. Park is a high-profile North Korean defector, known for spearheading an imaginative —and often controversial— propaganda campaign directed against the government of North Korea. In one recent example, Park, his wife and children, used dozens of inflatable helium balloons to smuggle thousands of leaflets, dollar bills, solar-powered radios, and DVDs into North Korea. The nature of Park’s operations, which tend to be designed to attract worldwide media attention, is often the cause of diplomatic rifts between Pyongyang and Seoul, which does not formally endorse Park’s actions. The Associated Press spoke to two South Korean officials, who refused to be named; although they confirmed news of Ahn’s arrest, they refused to discuss a report by South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, and now the BBC, according to which Ahn “had a poison-tipped needle on him” when he was detained by South Korean counterintelligence officers. This is the second time in recent months that South Korea has arrested North Korean defectors on suspicion of planning assassination operations. In April of 2010, Seoul announced that two North Koreans, who had defected to the South a few months earlier, had admitted to being intelligence officers on a Pyongyang-sponsored mission to assassinate a North Korean former senior official. The official, Hwang Jang-yop, is a former secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party and the ideological architect of juche, the philosophy of self-reliance, which is North Korea’s officially sanctioned state dogma. He is believed to have ideologically mentored North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. But in 1997, he caused a worldwide sensation by defecting to the South, where he lives today, under around-the-clock security protection. This past August, South Korean prosecutors indicted dozens of alleged members of the so-called “Wangjaesan spy ring”, an alleged North Korean operation, which is said to have involved several South Korean trade unionists, academics, and at least ten members of the country’s opposition Democratic Party.

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