SEOUL — South Korean President Roh Tae Woo granted a special pardon Thursday to a North Korean woman condemned to death for placing a time bomb on a Korean Air jetliner that disappeared over Southeast Asia late in 1987 with 115 people aboard.
Information Minister Choe Byung Yul said Kim Hyon Hui, 28, a confessed agent for Communist North Korea, will not be executed despite a March 27 Supreme Court ruling upholding her sentence.
Choe said the government decided to let her live as a witness to North Korean atrocities. The Justice Ministry recommended a presidential pardon on the grounds that she confessed. Choe said that Kim, through intensive brainwashing in a closed society, was reduced to a human tool for North Korean President Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il, who ordered the bombing.
North Korea has denied involvement in the plane's destruction.
Kim, accompanied by an aged man, boarded a KAL Boeing 707 at Baghdad, Iraq, the night of Nov. 28, 1987. The pair got off the plane several hours later at Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.
The airliner vanished over the Andaman Sea while flying to Bangkok, Thailand, en route to Seoul. The wreckage was never found. The pair was apprehended, and the North Korean man accompanying Kim committed suicide by biting a cyanide capsule. She also bit into one but survived.
In court, Kim said she bombed the plane on orders from Kim Jong Il, who wanted to deter Communist Bloc and neutral nations from the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.