Real life spies are a whole lot different to those found on television.
Take Kim Hyon Hui for example.
In 1987, acting out her first North Korean spy mission, she put a bomb on board Korean Air Lines Flight 858, killing all 115 on board, reports CNN. It was at the direct order of Kim Jong Il, the son of North Korea’s then-leader Kim Il Sung.
It’s an example of the lengths Pyongyang was prepared to go to disrupt the 1988 Summer Olympics hosted by South Korea – who will be hosting the Winter Olympics in early February.
Now, three decades later, and it seems we could have a similar issue on our hands – at least that’s the warning Hui has for everyone:
North and South Korea will walk under a joint flag at the Winter Olympics that kick off next month in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, and athletes from both sides will compete on the same hockey team.
However, Kim warns that North Korea hasn’t changed since she worked as a spy for the regime, and Pyongyang has still not apologized [sic] for the bombing or accepted responsibility.
“They are using South Korea to overcome their difficulties … to achieve their goal they execute their own people, siblings, families, do not be fooled, North Korea has not changed at all,” she says.
So how did Hui come to be a spy?
Well, wouldn’t you like to know.
She was “plucked from university at 18 thanks to her language skills” and then spent a year training in a “secret camp deep in the mountains”, where she was taught martial arts, shooting, radio communication and how to survive in the wild:
She learned Japanese from Yaeko Taguchi, a Japanese woman she says was abducted by North Korea and with whom she lived with for two years. (Kim has since met with the kidnapped woman’s brother and son.) She was then sent to the Chinese city of Guangzhou to perfect her grasp of Mandarin.
Then, in 1987, Hui was called back to Pyongyang as North Korea had decided she was ready for her deadly mission; Kim and a male accomplice, Kim Seung Il, were to go to the Austrian capital Vienna disguised as a Japanese couple.
It was there they were given the bomb:
“The bomb was a small Panasonic radio, behind that there were … batteries. North Korea built it so half of it acted as an explosive with chemicals in, the other half could be used as a regular radio,” says Hui.
They took the bomb to Baghdad. As they boarded the Korean Air Lines Flight 858, destined for Seoul, officials confiscated the batteries in the radio — without which the bomb was useless.
“I was very nervous at that time,” Hui says. “I picked up the batteries, put them back in the radio and complained to the officials. When I turned on the radio, sound came out so I told them they were making too much of a fuss.” Officials then allowed Hui to pass through security and board with the radio intact.
“For a moment, the thought of ‘these people will die’ crossed my mind, I was surprised when I thought that, I felt I was being weak, I was doing this for unification.”
Hui put the bomb in an overhead locker and took some pills to relax. She and her accomplice then got off the plane at a layover in Abu Dhabi. The plane carrying 115 people and a North Korean bomb departed for Seoul but never made it.
Plans to escape via Rome and Vienna did not pan out as the two agents were detained in Bahrain. They had a plan B — cyanide pills hidden in cigarette filters.
“We were taught that if an agent fails on a mission, he or she needs to commit suicide. We need to swallow the pill to protect the secret … we know very well that our families in the North would be harmed, so naturally we decided to swallow the pills. At the time I thought my 25-year-old life ends like this.”
Biting into the cyanide pill, Hui lost consciousness but survived. Her male comrade died.
Surprisingly, after being extradited to Seoul for interrogation, Hui was pardoned by then-President Roh Tae-woo. She then worked for South Korea’s National Intelligence Service before marrying one of her bodyguards.
During her interview with CNN, she had a stern warning for all:
“As a living witness to North Korea’s terror, I tell the truth and I am on the front line to prevent this kind of attack. Korea is still at war when it comes to ideology and thoughts.”
[imagesource: Twitter / @NicoleGraham031] I've heard some very average nicknames in my ...
[imagesource: When last did you drink rum? We're not talking about the stuff associa...
[imagesource: Instagram / @mrbeast] When Jimmy Donaldson left school, he wrote in his s...
[imagesource: Twitter / @jaredwright17] The problem with a Saturday morning Springbok k...
[imagesource: Gordon & MacPhail] For a cool $120 000 (around R1,8 million) you can ...