North Korea in the eyes of a former spy

 

Kim Hyun-hui, as she looks now

Kim Hyun-hui, as she looks now

This is about Kim Hyun-hui, who at the age of 19 was recruited from an elite Pyongyang University where she was studying Japanese to be an undercover agent.

Now, a 51-year-old mother of two and living in South Korea, she painfully relives her life not only as an agent, but her awful participation in mass murder.

Unknowingly, Kim was recruited for a fateful mission. She trained for six years, of which three were together with an equally young Japanese woman, Yaeko Taguchi, who had been kidnapped from her home in northern Japan. It was Taguchi who taught her to speak and act like Japanese.

This coincided at the time when South Korea was preparing to host the 1987 Olympic Games in Seoul and it was the evil intention of then North Korea’s leader Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il to stop it or, at most, to create chaos so the historic event will be cancelled.

“I was told by a senior officer that before the Seoul Olympics we would take down a South Korean airliner,” Kim said.

Kim and an older accomplice were ordered to board a Korean Airlines plane in Baghdad. She placed the suitcase bomb in an overhead compartment. .

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.

Somehow their escape plan went awry and the two North Korean agents were tracked heading to Bahrain where they were caught.

Kim Hyun-hui, as an undercover agent recruit

Kim Hyun-hui, as an undercover agent recruit

Her accomplice killed himself with a cyanide-laced cigarette, but Kim failed and was instead flown to Seoul for interrogation.

In her confession, Kim made it clear that the orders to bomb the plane had come directly from Kim Il-sung and his son and heir-apparent, Kim Jong-il.

“In North Korea everything was about the Kingdom of Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il,” she says.

“Kim Il-sung was a god-like figure. Anything that was ordered by him could be justified. Any order would be carried out with extreme loyalty. You were ready to sacrifice your life.”

“There is no other country like North Korea,” she says. “People outside can’t understand. The whole country is set up to show loyalty to the Kim royal family. It’s like a religion.

“People are so indoctrinated. There are no human rights, no freedoms.

Kim Hyun-hui was sentenced to death in 1989, but later received a presidential pardon from President Roe Tae-Woo.

She later married a South Korean intelligence officer with whom she has two children.

She says she still carries a heavy burden of guilt, but has found solace in Christianity, and in meeting and being forgiven by the families of those she killed.

This may have changed the life of Kim Hyun-hui, but, sadly, what continues to be the same is the perpetuation of power and the evil deeds of the ‘Kim royal family’ with another despot at the helm in the person of Kim Jong-Un.

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