North Korean says he defected to stop war
April 20, 1997
Web posted at: 9:17 a.m. EDT (1317 GMT)
From Seoul Bureau Chief Sohn Jie-Ae
SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- The highest-ranking North Korean
to defect to the south arrived in Seoul Sunday saying he had
come to stop war and push for reunification of the two
"I came to South Korea because I am convinced the only way
out is to block war by joining hands with brothers in the
South," Hwang Jang Yop told reporters at a military base near
Seoul. "North Korea seems to think there is no option but to
use the powerful military force it has built up over
Hwang, once a confidant of Pyongyang leader Kim Jong Il, and
aide Kim Duk Hong stepped off a chartered plane and threw
their hands up in the air in victory. Security was tight
around the airport, and Hwang appeared to be wearing a
Hwang and Kim defected to the South Korean embassy in Beijing
on February 12, and were transported to an undisclosed
location in the Philippines on March 18.
Hwang, the man who had been the architect of North Korea's
governing ideology of juche, or self-reliance, spoke about
his disillusionment with the north Sunday in a prepared
speech carried live on South Korean television.
"This country, which said it was going to build a socialist
paradise on earth, has become a nation which is begging for
food," he said.
North Korea's serious economic troubles have been coupled
with political change, a situation which some think may have
led to Hwang's defection.
"What we are seeing is Kim Jong Il readying himself to assume
power, not in the shadows as he has until now, but I would
expect vigorously up front, and I think some of the old guard
are being retired off," said North Korea analyst Michael
In his speech, Hwang criticized the North Korean leadership
for what he said were preparations for war while the people
After medical checks, Hwang is expected to go through an
extensive debriefing. Seoul officials hope he may be able to
provide answers to many major questions surrounding the
reclusive communist north, such as whether the north already
has nuclear weapons.
At this stage, however, it is not certain whether Hwang is
able or willing to provide answers about the inner workings
of North Korea. But his information is expected to be a
major help in furthering understanding of a country that is
shrouded in so much mystery.
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