N Koreans Jailed Over Plot To Kill Defector


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Two North Korean army majors have been jailed in South Korea for plotting to assassinate a high-profile defector who once mentored the North's leader.


Defector Hwang Jang-Yop arriving in South Korea in 1997

Kim Myong Ho and Dong Myong Kwan were sent to prison for 10 years after being convicted at Seoul Central District Court of violating national security laws.

Both were arrested in Seoul in April over an alleged plot to kill Hwang Jang-Yop, who used to be one of the North's most powerful officials before he defected to South Korea in 1997.

Pyongyang has denied any involvement, accusing the South of staging it to intensify anti-North sentiment.

The majors posed as ordinary defectors and told investigators they were ordered to report back on Hwang's activities in Seoul and prepare to "slit the betrayer's throat", prosecutors said.

Hwang was the chief architect of North Korea's guiding "juche" philosophy of self-reliance. The 87-year-old even tutored leader Kim Jong-Il on the ideology.

Since defecting, Hwang has lived in Seoul under tight police security. He has written books and delivered speeches condemning Kim Jong-Il's government as authoritarian.

Kim Jong-Il has reportedly vowed revenge on the elderly man.


Hwang mentored Kim Jong-Il (pictured)

Judge Cho Han-Chang told the court: "The efforts to try to locate Hwang's residence to plot to kill him... is a dangerous act undermining social security and order that must be condemned."

He added: "They have admitted to all of their crimes and even showed a human side, worrying about the safety of their families in North Korea."

The Koreas remain officially in a state of war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.