Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The highest-ranking North Korean official ever to defect to the South suspended his participation in public events yesterday, a day after receiving death threats.

Hwang Jang-yop, 82, canceled a speech at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency upon announcing his decision, according to police and a North Korean defectors' organization.

Each week, Hwang has delivered several unofficial speeches, most condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and the communist country.
I wonder who would want Hwang silent (or dead)?

UPDATE: Here are some details concerning the nature of the death threats:
Agence France-Presse ("NKOREA'S TOP DEFECTOR RECEIVES DEATH THREAT," 03/08/04) reported that the DPRK's top defector was depicted with a blood-spattered meat cleaver piercing his skull in a graphic death threat posted in the ROK capital, police said. A photograph of Hwang Jang-Yop mounted on a board with the meat cleaver buried in his forehead was found outside the offices of a DPRK defectors group which Hwang leads. A message under the photograph that was covered in fake blood named Hwang and two other prominent defectors and contained the words, "I will kill you all." Printed leaflets scattered nearby warned Hwang of an imminent attempt on his life. "Brace yourself, Hwang Jang-Yop, traitor of the people," the leaflets said. Hwang, 81, the former secretary of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party and former mentor to dictator Kim Jong-Il, defected to the ROK in 1997 and has been an outspoken critic of the DPRK. In 1997 DPRK agents allegedly gunned down another prominent DPRK defector Lee Han-Young, who said he was the nephew of Sung Hae-Rim, a former actress who became Kim Jong-Il's mistress.

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