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115 Died in Nov. 29 Crash : N. Korea Agent Confesses, Says She Put Bomb on Jet

January 15, 1988|Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — A woman linked to the destruction of a South Korean airliner with 115 people aboard confessed on television today that she is a Communist North Korean agent and said she planted a bomb on the plane.

She identified herself as Kim Hyon Hui and said she and a male companion blew up the plane to discourage foreign participation in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul and create unrest in the south.

The woman said the two of them planted a bomb made from liquid explosive disguised in a liquor bottle and a detonator hidden in a radio and left it on the plane.

"It is natural that I should be punished and killed a hundred times for my sin," the 25-year-old woman told a nationally televised press conference.

Her companion killed himself last month. He was identified as Kim Sung Il, 69, also a North Korean intelligence agent and a member of the ruling North Korean Communist Party.

South Korean intelligence agents said Kim Hyon Hui was acting on the personal orders of Kim Jong Il, son and political heir of North Korea's President Kim Il Sung.

Kim, who said she is from the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, said she initially refused to answer questions about the plane to shield Kim Jong Il. She used his formal title of "dear leader."

The Korean Air Boeing 707 crashed into the Andaman Sea on Nov. 29 off the coast of Burma. All 115 people aboard were presumed killed.

South Korean leaders contend the plane was destroyed because of North Korea's determination to halt the Olympic Games.

North Korea has denied that it was involved in the loss of the plane. The two Koreas, divided since 1945, are bitter enemies and have often clashed since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

Kim and her male companion, in the guise of Japanese tourists, flew on the plane on the first leg of its journey from Baghdad, Iraq. They left the plane in Abu Dhabi before it took off for Seoul with a planned stop in Bangkok, Thailand.

Kim, who used a false Japanese passport under the name of Mayumi Hachiya, attempted to commit suicide in Bahrain when police questioned her about the plane.

Her male companion also bit into a poison capsule hidden in a cigarette and died within hours. His body was brought to Seoul when Kim was extradited to South Korea.

Kim said that coming here made her realize the south is not a slave society dominated by the United States as she had been taught. She said she realizes she was wrong and deeply regrets her actions.

South Korean officials said Kim was recruited into the North Korean security services in 1980. They said her father was North Korea's trade representative in Angola and had been a diplomat in the Soviet Union and Cuba.

Officials of the South Korean Agency for National Security Planning (formerly the Korean Central Intelligence Agency), who conducted the news conference, said the two were equipped with highly sophisticated explosives and sabotage gear and that the bombing was an elaborate operation.

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