04/21/2010, 00.00
KOREA
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Two assassins sent to kill Hwang Jang-yop are arrested in Seoul

by Joseph Yun Li-sun
The life of 87-year-old former secretary of the North Korean Workers’ Party, who fled 13 years ago, is in constant danger. His would-be assassins were supposed to cut his throat. Sources tell AsiaNews that after the sinking of the Cheonan, this incident gives North Korea an excuse to stay away from the six-nation talks.
Seoul (AsiaNews) – South Korea announced that it has uncovered a plot to assassinate Hwang Jang-yop, 87, a former secretary of the North Korean Workers' Party and the most senior official ever to have defected from Communist North Korea. After fleeing North Korea 13 years ago, he has been thorn in the side of the Stalinist regime. According to a spokesperson for the South Korean presidency, two North Koreans were arrested on suspicion of being on a mission to kill Hwang.

The plot to eliminate North Korea’s highest-ranking defector was discovered during a routine debriefing of the two men, namely simply Kim and Tong. Although their identity remains secret, they are known to have travelled to South Korea from Thailand earlier this year, posing as defectors.

The agents were supposed to find Hwang, follow him and wait for orders to kill him, which was supposed to occur in late March. The orders were to “slit the traitor’s throat”.  

North Korea’s Stalinist regime never concealed its hatred for Hwang. Just two weeks ago, its official website called him “human scum”. Its ire was set off by an interview the defector gave Japan’s Asahi Shimbun, in which he said that North Korea would never give up its nuclear programme, but that it would also not use the atomic bomb, which was only a tool to blackmail the world.

Mr Hwang lives under heavy police protection. In his speeches against the North, he does not dare a glass of water for fear of poisoning.

After his escape, due to Kim Jong-Il’s ill-fated economic policies, which amount to a death sentence for the people of the North, many members of his family were reportedly sent to labour camps. However, as far as he is concerned, he did not betray his country, Kim did.

Sources in Korea told AsiaNews that, “the arrest comes a time in which relations between the two states are extremely tense. On the one hand, there is the sinking of the Cheonan, which left scores of sailors dead last month, possibly by a torpedo launched by a North Korean sub. On the other, there are the six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme, which Kim would like to avoid fearing he might be cornered. The latest incident will give him a good excuse to stay away from the negotiating table.”

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