S. Korea Accused of Plotting to Destroy N. Korean Statues
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Friday that it has arrested a man sent by South Korean spies to destroy statues of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founding president and the grandfather of its current leader, Kim Jong-un.
A group of defectors has claimed that it was dedicated to sabotaging Kim Il-sung statues, though its leader said Friday that it has never implemented its plan, calling North Korea’s assertion a “fabrication.” The South Korean government also dismissed the claim as “propaganda.”
“Destroying a statue is the most hideous insult to our supreme authority and our people and is an act of war no less serous than an armed invasion,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Friday.
It vowed an unspecified “thousandfold revenge.”
North Korea arranged a news conference in the capital, Pyongyang, on Thursday at which a man identified as Jon Yong-chol said that South Korean agents working with their American counterparts sent him to destroy a Kim Il-sung monument in a North Korean town near the Chinese border.
Mr. Jon, 52, is a North Korean who defected to the South in 2010, according to the South Korean government.
He told the news conference that he was paid and ordered to slip back into the North from China and destroy his target next Friday, using a remote-controlled bomb. But he was caught inside North Korea on June 19 while trying to return to China after a reconnaissance mission, the authorities said.
In North Korea, every news item is thoroughly scripted by government propagandists. Any claim made in a government-arranged news conference there raises questions of credibility among outside observers.
“It’s completely false,” said Kim Hyung-suk, a South Korean government spokesman, referring to Mr. Jon’s claim that he was directed by South Korean government agents. “This is propaganda not worth responding to.”
Kim Song-min, a North Korean defector in Seoul, said he and fellow defectors formed a “statue demolition society” in late 2010.
“I thought that destroying Kim Il-sung statues was the spark needed to trigger a democracy movement in North Korea,” he said. “But we never put our plan into action.”
He said he had met Mr. Jon only once, around last fall, but did not trust him. Mr. Kim said he suspected that Mr. Jon was one of a growing number of North Korean defectors interested in making money by smuggling information and defectors out of the North.
Nearly 24,000 North Korean defectors have settled in the South since a famine in the late 1990s drove North Koreans to flee their homeland.
Some of them have recently begun campaigning to undermine the dictatorship in Pyongyang. They use smugglers to send leaflets, DVDs and computer memory sticks into the North to spread outside news and criticism of the Kim dynasty. Kim Hyung-suk, for one, runs a radio station in Seoul that broadcasts outside news into the North.
North Korea news media have frequently referred to the defectors as “traitors” and “human scum.”
North Korea has built a personality cult around the ruling Kim family, building numerous monuments for Kim Il-sung and inscribing rocks and cliffs with gigantic messages praising the Kim family.
North Koreans regard Kim Il-sung statues as sacred spots. Townspeople sweep the sites every morning. Newly married couples bow before the statue in their hometown, as they would before their parents.
Source: NYTimes, @YourAnonNews
while I don't agree with destroying statues as a way to prove a point, I think the idea behind it is good. These defectors want to trigger a movement in the North so others can see the type of government-controlled country they are living in.