South Korea will increase protection measures for high-profile North Korean defectors and defector activists amid fears of North Korean assassination attempts, South Korea’s Prime Minister’s Office announced on Thursday.
The anti-terrorism center at the Prime Minister’s Office and the South’s National Police Agency held a meeting and judged that “the threat of terrorism against unspecific targets has increased in the country since the ‘murder of Kim Jong Nam‘,” according to the office.
Prime Minister’s Office said the police will heighten safety measures for high-profile defectors and tighten security when they make public appearances.
“[The South’s government] will strengthen protection of so-called anti-North Korean activists who are speaking about the real truth of the North among North Korean defectors in the wake of the murder of Kim Jong Nam,” a statement carried by Prime Minister’s Office said.
Lee Han-yong, a North Korean defector and a cousin of Kim Jong Nam, was shot and killed in 1997 in Seoul by two assailants who were believed to be North Korean agents.
In 2010, two North Korean spies were arrested and charged for attempting to kill now-deceased Hwang Jang-yop, a high-profile defector and a former secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).
In 2011, a North Korean agent was imprisoned in South Korea for attempting to assassinate Park Sang-hak, a North Korean defector who sends propaganda leaflets across the border between two Koreas, with a poisoned needle.
The Prime Minister’s Office vowed to strengthen the South’s preparedness “in case the government obtains terror threat information and finds any signs” by closely sharing information among authorities, including the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and Ministry of Justice.
South Korean Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn also presided over a National Security Council (NSC) meeting to discuss the alleged murder of Kim Jong Nam and the North Korean issue on Wednesday.
Seoul hasn’t yet confirmed the death of the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, as the deceased North Korean’s name was identified as Kim Chol in his passport, although Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister earlier confirmed to press that it was him.
South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) said on Wednesday it is “almost certain” that the man killed in Kuala Lumpur was Kim Jong Un’s half-brother Kim Jong Nam.
South Korea’s military also said it “would consider” broadcasting Kim’s death through propaganda speakers located along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) if Kim’s death is “officially confirmed” to have been ordered by Pyongyang, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) also said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) suggested on Thursday that the alleged murder of Kim would be discussed at a trilateral foreign ministers’ meeting between the United States, Japan, and the South held on Thursday evening in Bonn, Germany.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of a meeting of G20 foreign ministers.
“The North Korean and nuclear issues will be discussed, and I believe various issues of concern will also be discussed there,” Deputy Spokesperson Sun Nahm-kook told reporters during a press briefing.
MOFA also said that the South and the Malaysian government are in discussions through the South’s overseas mission.
Featured Image: Prime Minister’s Office, Published on February 15
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