Jail for man involved in planned assassination of senior North Korean defector

Hwang Jang-yopAn appeals court in Seoul has upheld the conviction of a South Korean member of a spy cell that planned to assassinate the most senior North Korean defector to the South. The man, identified in media reports only by his last name, Park, is a South Korean citizen who allegedly helped a North Korean spy cell “based in China” plan the assassination of Hwang Jang-yop. In 1997, Hwang caused a sensation on both sides of the border when he defected to the South. A former secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party, Hwang was Pyongyang’s primary theorist and the ideological architect of juche, the philosophy of self-reliance, which is North Korea’s officially sanctioned state dogma. He was also believed to have ideologically mentored North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il, the father of the country’s current Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un. Until his death from heart failure in April 2010, Hwang, had been living in the South with around-the-clock security protection.

In October 2010, a few months before Hwang’s death, South Korean authorities revealed that two self-confessed North Korean spies, Tong Myong Kwan and Kim Myung Ho, had allegedly admitted to posing as defectors. Seoul said that Tong and Kim, who were both 36 at the time, were on an assassination mission assigned to them by the intelligence unit of the North Korean Ministry of Defense. The two reportedly stated under interrogation that they were selected for the mission in 2004 and were trained for six years in spy trade craft, as well as techniques of assimilating in life in South Korea, which apparently included “watching South Korean soap operas to gain a better understanding of South Korean society”.

At the time of Tong and Kim’s arrest, South Korean authorities had stated that the two alleged North Korean spies had been assisted by at least two South Korean citizens. One has never been named. The other, Park, was indicted last year of providing logistical support to foreign spies who were plotting to kill Hwang, in return for ₩25 million ($21,000). His legal team appealed the sentence, saying he had been framed by the North Koreans. But on Tuesday, the Seoul High Court rejected the Park’s appeal and upheld his original 3-year jail sentence.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 18 May 2016 | Permalink

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N. Korean dictator had army chief publicly executed, say intel sources

Hyon Yong CholBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
The head of the North Korean Armed Forces was publicly executed by a firing squad using antiaircraft fire, according to a briefing by South Korean intelligence officials. Representatives from South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told reporters in Seoul last week that the execution took place on April 30 in the courtyard of a military academy in North Korean capital Pyongyang.

If the report is accurate, it would mean that Hyon Yong Chol, who led the country’s People’s Armed Forces, is no more. Hyon was considered a trusted advisor to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, who appointed him Minister of the People’s Armed Forces in the summer of 2014. Despite his impressive title, Hyon’s power was limited, as the head of the North Korean Armed Forces is largely a figurehead. True military power rests with the all-powerful Central Military Commission of the Korean Workers Party, and with the National Defense Commission, whose chairman, Kim Jong-Un, controls the military. Still, if the report of Hyon’s execution turns out to be accurate, it will point to the continuation of the power-struggle among different factions within the North Korean political and military hierarchy.

According to South Korean intelligence, Hyon was executed because he “dozed off” during a high-level meeting chaired by Kim, an act that was interpreted as proof of “disrespect and disloyalty”. However, there are suspicions that Hyon had directly challenged Kim on several occasions, and that the North Korean dictator suspected him of organizing an insurrection by members of the military. The NIS said during last week’s briefing that the execution was watched by “hundreds of senior North Korean officials” and that the firing squad made use of high-caliber artillery to kill Hyon, in order to make an example of his brutal killing.

It is worth noting that South Korean intelligence briefings on the North are not always accurate. Seoul claims that North Korean authorities have executed at least 15 senior officials in the past 12 months, among them Jang Song Thaek, uncle to the country’s leader, who was thought to be the second most powerful man in the country until his purported death in December 2013.

South charges North Korean agents with assassination plot

Hwang Jang-yop

Hwang Jang-yop

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Two North Koreans who defected to South Korea last November have allegedly admitted to being intelligence officers on a mission to assassinate a North Korean former senior official. The official, Hwang Jang-yop, caused a sensation on both sides of the border when he defected to the South in 1997. A former secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party, Hwang was the North’s primary theorist and the ideological architect of juche, the philosophy of self-reliance, which is North Korea’s officially sanctioned state dogma. Since his defection, the 87-year-old Hwang, who is believed to have ideologically mentored North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, has been living in the South with around-the-clock security protection. The two self-confessed spies, Tong Myong Kwan and Kim Myung Ho, both 36, have allegedly admitted posing as defectors, while in reality being on an assassination mission on behalf of the intelligence unit of the North Korean Ministry of Defense. Read more of this post