Kim Jong-Un ‘Struggling’: What Does Former North Korean Terrorist Kim Hyun-Hee Reveal About Leader?

By Philip Ross on April 13, 2013 6:04 PM EDT

kim jong-un
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un waves to military personnel as he departs from their camp near the border with South Korea. A former North Korean spy says Jong-un is “struggling” to gain the support of his army. (Photo: Reuters)

A former North Korean spy and terrorist named Kim Hyun-hee said in an interview with ABC on Wednesday that North Korea's wanton leader Kim Jong-un is "struggling." According to Hyun-hee, Jong-un's recent string of aggressive rhetoric is one massive façade aimed at affixing his influence over the country's army.

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Ex-North Korean Terrorist Seeks Redemption

The Age reports that Hyun-hee, 51, was involved in the bombing of a South Korean passenger jet back in 1987. She and another agent, disguised as Japanese tourists, planted a bomb on a plane en route from Baghdad to Seoul.

One hundred and fifteen people perished in the bombing. This was the event that led the U.S. State Department to finger North Korea as State Sponsors of Terrorism, a designation the U.S. reserves for countries that have shown repeated support of international acts of terrorism.

North Korea was later removed from the list of terrorist states in 2008 under the direction of President George W. Bush.

According to The Age, Hyun-hee and her partner were arrested in Bahrain when authorities discovered their fake passports. Like any good spy who gets caught, Hyun-hee and her fellow agent swallowed cyanide, which they had hidden in a cigarette pack, to try and kill themselves. Hyun-hee survived, but the other agent did not.

And now, the 51-year-old former North Korean spy, who was pardoned by South Korean authorities after they decided she had been brainwashed by their neighbors to the North to carry out the deadly attack, speaks out about the illusive regime.

"As the only witness [to the bombing], it is my destiny to testify about the truth," Hyun-hee said during an interview with 7.30, ABC TV's current affairs program.

"I regret what I did and am repentant,'' she said. ''I feel I should not hide the truth to the family members of those who died.''

An Insider's Perspective

According to The Age, Hyun-hee was just a girl when North Korean party officials showed up at her school and selected her to become part of the government's espionage effort. She was taken to a spy school in the mountains where she was given a new name and trained in martial arts.

Hyun-hee said that after eight years of training, she was chosen to blow up the South Korean passenger jet. According to Hyun-hee, the plot was a scare tactic meant to keep foreigners from attending the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul.

Last Wednesday, from a secret location in South Korea, where Hyun-hee now lives with her husband and two kids, the former agent of the North Korean government spoke with 7.30 about the current North Korean regime.

"Kim Jong-un is too young and too inexperienced," she said in the interview. ''North Korea is using its nuclear programme to keep its people in line and to push South Korea and the United States for concessions."

She went on to say that Jong-un's frequent visits to military bases are his way of trying to get his military's support, but that the North Korean dictator is "struggling" to garner their loyalty.

More Details From Inside North Korea

This isn't the first time a former North Korean nationalist has come out of the woodwork to report on what's happening above the 38th Parallel.

In Dec. 2012, Shin Dong-hyuk told of his harrowing escape from a North Korean prison camp just 50 miles from Pyongyang where he was held for the entire 23 years of his life.

"It's a modern day concenctration camp," Anderson Cooper said during a 60 minutes segment last year, during which he interviewed Dong-hyuk.

Dong-hyuk grew up surrounded by an electrified fence and witnessed countless executions as a child. "I just thought those people carrying guns were simply born to carry guns," Dong-hyuk told Cooper. The former prisoner also said he had no idea America existed, or even that the earth was round.

"I thought the society outside the camp was just like society in the camp," he told Cooper.

Anderson Cooper reports that Dong-hyuk lived in what's called Camp 14, which is part of the largest network of politcal prisons in the world today. Human rights groups believe 150,000 people are kept there, starving and forced to do manual labor.

Read more from iScience Times:

North Korea Threat: How Will US React To North Korean Attack On Seoul?

North Korea Nuclear War: Are Foreign Diplomats In Danger?

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