February 21, 2024

Missiles, money and ginseng: A North Korean spy in the Cold War

A weapons factory worker in Kiev was one of Pyongyang’s great spy assets in the 1970s

Many assume that North Korea was an ally of the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. But in fact relations were never easy between the two, particularly after the late 1950s. There was a great deal of mutual mistrust beneath the thin veneer of friendship rhetoric.

So it is hardly surprising that North Korean intelligence operatives were remarkably active in the Soviet Union from the early 1960s, hunting for technological secrets and new weapons designs that they could not obtain legally.