Conflict & Justice

North Korean jailed over plot to kill fellow defector with poison needle


South Korean activists prepare to release balloons carrying anti North Korean leaflets at Imjingak peace park, a tourist site near the inter Korea border, in Paju on February 16, 2012.



A North Korean defector to South Korea has been jailed for plotting to murder a leading anti-Pyongyang activist.

The defector, identified only as An, was allegedly ordered by North Korea to assassinate Park Sang-Hak, also a defector, who reportedly regularly floats leaflets critical of the North's regime across the border, Agence France-Presse reported.

An was arrested in possession of a poison-tipped needle and other weapons while on his way to meet Park Sang-hak.

More from GlobalPost: N Korean defector held over plot to kill activist

A court in Seoul convicted him over the assassination plot and jailed him for four years.

The Guardian cited Park as saying that said An had tried to arrange a meeting late last year at a subway station in Seoul.

Park, alerted by South Korea's anti-espionage agency, did not show up, AFP wrote.

"An told me by phone that he was to be accompanied by a visitor from Japan who wants to help our efforts. But then I was told by the NIS (National Intelligence Service) not to go to the meeting due to the risk of assassination," Park told AFP at the time.

An was arrested shortly afterwards, and Park said South Korean authorities told him Ahn planned to either poison his drink or jab him with a poisoned needle.

The North has a long history of trying to silence critics, AFP wrote, and sometimes come close, despite all defectors undergoing screening to weed out North Korean agents.

"In 1997, Lee Han-Young, a nephew of Sung Hye-Rim — the deceased first wife of North Korea's late leader Kim Jong-Il — was shot dead outside his apartment in South Korea."

In a separate case earlier in 2011, a South Korean court sentenced a North Korean agent to 10 years in prison for plotting to assassinate high-profile defector Hwang Jang-yop, a former senior member of the North's ruling party.

Citing Yonhap news agency,  said An was recruited by a North Korean agent overseas while working for the South's intelligence agency.