North Korea claims plot reveals US state-sponsored terrorism

2017-05-08 19:45
Kim Jong Un. (Wong Maye-E, AP)

Kim Jong Un. (Wong Maye-E, AP)

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Tokyo - After arresting two American university instructors and laying out what it says was an elaborate CIA-backed plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un, North Korea is claiming to be the victim of state-sponsored terrorism – allegedly from the White House.

The assertion comes as the US is considering putting the North back on its list of terror sponsors. But the vitriolic outrage over the alleged plan to assassinate Kim in April is also being doled out with an unusually big dollop of retaliation threats, raising a familiar question: What on Earth is going on in Pyongyang?

US citizens detained

North Korea's state-run media announced on Sunday that an ethnic Korean man with US citizenship was "intercepted" on Saturday by authorities for unspecified hostile acts against the country. He was identified as Kim Hak Song, an employee of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

That came just days after the North announced the detention of an accounting instructor at the same university, Kim Sang Dok, also a US citizen, for "acts of hostility aimed to overturn" the country. PUST is North Korea's only privately funded university and has a large number of foreign teachers, including Americans.

What, if anything, the arrests have to the alleged plot is unknown. But they bring to four the number of US citizens now known to be in custody in the North.

The others are Otto Warmbier, serving a 15-year prison term with hard labour for alleged anti-state acts. He allegedly tried to steal a propaganda banner at his tourist hotel. Another detainee is Kim Dong Chul, serving a 10-year term with hard labour for alleged espionage.

The reported arrest of another "Mr Kim" - the North Korean man allegedly at the centre of the assassination plot - is more ominous.

'Murderous demons'

According to state media reports that began on Friday, he is a Pyongyang resident who was "ideologically corrupted and bribed" by the CIA and South Korea's National Intelligence Service while working in the timber industry in Siberia in 2014. The Russian far east is one of the main places where North Korean labourers are allowed to work abroad.

The reports say Kim - his full name has not been provided - was converted into a "terrorist full of repugnance and revenge against the supreme leadership" of North Korea and collaborated in an elaborate plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un at a series of events, including a major military parade, that were held in April.  

They allege Kim was in frequent contact through satellite communications with the "murderous demons" of the NIS and CIA, who instructed him to use a biochemical substance that is the "know-how of the CIA" and that the hardware, supplies and funds would be borne by the South Korean side.

Kim Jong Un attended the military parade on April 15 and made several other appearances around that time to mark the anniversary of his late grandfather's birthday.

Demanding revenge

The initial reports of the plot concluded with a vow by the Ministry of State Security to "ferret out to the last one" the organisers, conspirators and followers of the plot, which it called "state-sponsored terrorism".

The North Korean reports also said a "Korean-style anti-terrorist attack" would begin immediately. Follow-up stories on the plot have focused on outraged North Koreans demanding revenge.

Tensions between North Korea and its chief adversaries - the US and South Korea - have been rising over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes, as well as joint US-South Korean military exercises that include training for a possible "decapitation strike" to kill the North's senior leaders.

Read more on:    kim jong un  |  north korea  |  south korea  |  us

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