Monday, April 22, 2013

The North Korean spy who blew up a plane

Despite having removed the north from the state sponsor of terror list, we should keep in mind that this kind of training continues in the north.

22 April 2013 Last updated at 09:43 ET

The North Korean spy who blew up a plane
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC News, Seoul

Kim Hyun-hui: "I am sad to have been born in North Korea"

Kim Hyun-hui certainly doesn't look like a mass murderer. The 51-year-old mother of two has a gentle smile and soft voice.

Today she lives in quiet seclusion somewhere in South Korea; she won't say where. The day we meet she is, as always, accompanied by a group of hired heavies in ill-fitting suits.

She fears the North Korean government still wants to kill her, and with good reason.

Kim Hyun-hui was once an agent of the North Korean regime. Twenty-five years ago, on Pyongyang's orders, she blew up a South Korean airliner.

Sitting in a Seoul hotel room she describes to me how, at the age of 19, she was recruited from an elite Pyongyang University where she was studying Japanese.

She trained for six years. For three of them she was paired with a young Japanese woman, Yaeko Taguchi, who had been kidnapped from her home in northern Japan. She says Mrs Taguchi taught her to speak and act like a Japanese.

Any order would be carried out with extreme loyalty - you were ready to sacrifice your life”
Kim Hyun-hui

Then came her fateful mission.

It was 1987 and South Korea was preparing to host the Olympic Games in Seoul. North Korea's leader Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il were determined to stop it.

"I was told by a senior officer that before the Seoul Olympics we would take down a South Korean airliner," Kim Hyun-hui tells me.

"He said it would create chaos and confusion in South Korea. The mission would strike a severe blow for the revolution."

'Direct orders'

Kim and an older accomplice boarded the Korean Airlines plane in Baghdad. She placed the suitcase bomb in an overhead locker.

During a stopover in Abu Dhabi, the two North Korean agents got off and made their escape.
Hours later over the Andaman Sea, the bomb blew up. All 115 on board were killed.

But then their plan went wrong. The two agents were tracked to Bahrain and caught.

Her accomplice killed himself with a cyanide-laced cigarette, but Kim Hyun-hui failed. She was instead flown to Seoul and paraded before the international media.

"When I came down the steps of that aircraft, I didn't see anything," she says. "I just looked at the ground. They had taped my mouth shut. I thought I was entering the den of the lion. I was sure they were going to kill me."

Instead they took her to an underground bunker where the interrogations began.

At first she says she tried to keep up the pretence she was Japanese. But finally she broke.
(Continued at the link below)

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