October 01, 2023

North Korean spy ran hotels, casinos and travel agency in Cambodia: UN report

Expert says Cambodia has been a ‘gold mine’ for North Korean operatives looking to set up shop

A North Korean spy in Cambodia ran hotels, casinos, travel agencies, restaurants and bars as late as mid-2020, multiple U.N. member states told sanctions monitors, exposing what one expert calls part of a decadeslong pattern of Cambodia abetting Pyongyang’s intelligence operations and illegal economic activities.

The operative, whose real name was Kim Chol Sok, ran the businesses under the alias “Sok Kha” at the behest of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), North Korea’s top spy agency. According to the draft of the U.N. Panel of Experts report, one of the businesses Kim ran was C.H. World Travel Co. Ltd., a Phnom Penh-based travel agency that has specialized in tours in East and Southeast Asia.