North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Another Hwang Plot

ROK authorities have arrested another man accused of posing as a defector to gain entry into ROK to assassinate Hwang Jang Yop.  Hwang was the most senior DPRK official to defect to the ROK.  He passed away due to natural causes on or around 9 October.

The New York Times reports:

The man accused of seeking to assassinate Mr. Hwang, Ri Dong-sam, 46, was described as an agent with North Korea’s premier intelligence organization, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, who had begun five years of espionage training in 1998.

Some reports said he crossed the border into China in 2004, even as other assassins and hit squads were infiltrating the South. He reportedly spent five years in China before getting the order to kill Mr. Hwang. He made his way in December 2009 to either Thailand or Laos.

In May, he was apparently preparing to enter South Korea when two other fake defectors hunting Mr. Hwang were arrested in Seoul. The two, majors in the North Korean Army, were convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison in July.

Mr. Ri, the reports said, postponed his arrival in South Korea until August. Like all those who identify themselves as defectors from the North, he was sequestered and questioned by South Korean intelligence agents.

He reportedly admitted that he had been an agent with North Korean intelligence’s notorious Office 35 — tasked with abduction and assassination — but said that he had fled after being accused of corruption. But investigators said they became suspicious when he gave confusing answers about his hometown.

It was not clear, however, whether they held him in custody until he was charged late Tuesday.

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