September 16 2011 at 09:21am
Ampule and syringe on abstract coloured background.
Seoul – South Korea’s intelligence agency has arrested a man allegedly sent by North Korea to assassinate an outspoken anti-Pyongyang activist with a poison-tipped needle, a news report said on Friday.
The man, identified only as An, was in possession of the needle and other weapons at the time of his arrest, Yonhap news agency said.
A National Intelligence Service spokesman declined to comment, saying: “We don’t comment on cases under investigation.”
An, a former North Korean special forces commando aged in his 40s, came to the South in the late 1990s as a defector but disappeared several years ago.
After resurfacing in the South in Febru
ary, An sought early this month to meet activist Park Sang-Hak, Yonhap reported.
But Park, alerted by the anti-espionage agency, did not show up for a meeting with An at a subway station in southern Seoul where An was arrested.
Park is a former North Korean defector who along with other activists sends thousands of anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the border, sparking angry protests from North Korea.
It has threatened to fire across the border to blast places where such leaflets are launched.
Park told Yonhap a woman who claimed to be a defector had visited his office and offered help in his campaigns to send the leaflets slung under gas-filled balloons across the border.
But the woman disappeared afterwards, he said. Yonhap said authorities were looking for her as a suspect.
Park, who could not be reached for comment Friday, is one of the most active of the activists who float leaflets fiercely critical of the North’s regime across the heavily fortified border.
Recent ones urge North Koreans to rise up and topple the regime “like Libyan rebels”.
North Korea has a history of trying to silence critics in the South.
In January a court jailed a North Korean spy for 10 years for plotting to assassinate the highest-ranking defector ever to flee to the South.
The court said the would-be assassin intended to murder Hwang Jang-Yop on orders from a North Korean espionage body, after entering the South posing as a defector.
Hwang died of natural causes at his closely guarded Seoul home last October 10 at the age of 87.
In July last year, two other North Korean spies were sentenced to 10 years in prison for plotting to murder Hwang.
Lee, who had lived in the South for 15 years, was murdered after breaking his long silence about Kim’s private life.
Last month a South Korean missionary working with North Korean refugees in China collapsed and died suddenly in the street. A fellow missionary and a newspaper report voiced suspicion Pyongyang agents were involved.
Another South Korean activist working elsewhere in northeast China said he was stabbed with a poison-tipped needle in a separate non-fatal incident. – Sapa-AFP