North Korea hints at accepting Hwang's defection
(CNN) -- North Korea indicated Monday that it could accept the
defection of Hwang Jang Yop, the highest-ranking official to
flee the communist state to seek asylum in South Korea.
Another prominent defector, Lee Han-young, a nephew of North
Korean leader Kim Jong Il's ex-wife, remained in a coma after
being critically wounded Saturday by suspected North Korean
agents near Seoul.
Hwang, a founder of communist North Korea, sought asylum in
Seoul's consulate in Beijing last Wednesday. He turned 74
North Korea initially refused to accept his defection,
accusing South Korea of kidnapping him and threatening to
But in a statement quoted by North Korea's official news
agency, an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday:
"Our stand is simple and clear. If he was kidnapped, we
cannot tolerate and we will take decisive countermeasures. If
he sought asylum, it means that he is a renegade and he is
The North Korean spokesman told the news agency that the
North asked China to investigate the "disappearance" of
Hwang, who once was the private tutor of Kim.
Monday's "comment seems to imply that North Korea will accept
it if independent parties, like the U.N. High Commissioner
for Refugees, rule that Hwang is a political defector," said
Kang Ho-yang, spokesman for South Korea's Unification
China kept silent Monday on Hwang's fate. Heavily armed
police backed by an armored car and water cannons guarded the
South Korean consulate.
Challenged several times by North Koreans keeping a vigil
outside the consulate, police blocked surrounding streets
with their cars and tire-shredding spikes.
With so many North Koreans living in Beijing, Chinese
military police are also stationed outside South Korea's
embassy, located in a high-rise building some distance from
As China considers whether to allow Hwang to leave, it faces
a dilemma, Korea analyst Kryzstof Darewicz told CNN.
He said Bejing must decide whether it's best to improve
growing commercial ties with Seoul or continue with
ideological ties to communist North Korea, a longtime ally on
whose side China fought in the 1950-53 Korean War.
Seoul officials believe that Pyongyang ordered the attack on
Lee, 36, in retaliation for Hwang's defection. Lee, whose
real name is Lee Il Nam, defected to South Korea in 1982.
Security around South Korea's ports, airports and other
public places has been beefed up and 10,000 police and
soldiers searched for the two suspected North Korean agents
who shot Lee.
"The North's reprisal has pushed us into a dilemma," Ban
Ki-moon, President Kim Young-sam's national security adviser,
told South Korea reporters.
But Ban said his country will respond to a U.N. appeal for
fresh humanitarian aid for North Korea, as well as sending a
team of technicians to survey the site in North Korea where
two nuclear reactors are to be built under a 1994 U.S.-North
Correspondents Rebecca MacKinnon and Sohn Jie-Ae and Reuters contributed to this report.
Related sites:Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.