A South Korean court handed down a four-year jail sentence on Wednesday to a convicted North Korean spy who was involved in a bid to maim the eldest son of the North’s late leader Kim Jong-il.
The unidentified spy had arrived in South Korea in March posing as a refugee who had fled the communist North via China, the court heard.
Under interrogation by security authorities, the man confessed to being part of a plot to stage a hit-and-run car accident in China in 2010 targeting Kim’s eldest son, Kim Jong-nam.
Kim Jong-nam fell out of favour with his father following a botched attempt in 2001 to secretly enter Japan using a fake passport and visit Disneyland.
He has since lived in virtual exile, mainly in Macau.
Last year he told a Japanese newspaper that he opposed the idea of the North’s dynastic power transfer.
The convicted spy said he had spent 10 years as an undercover agent in China and was assigned to injure Kim Jong-nam and possibly bring him back to Pyongyang, according to a prosecution service official.
At one point he hired a taxi driver to carry out a hit-and-run, but the plot failed as Kim was away on an extended overseas visit, the official said.
In China, the spy had also tracked down defectors from North Korea to try and get them to return to their homeland, the Seoul Central District Court said in its ruling.
“The defendant seriously violated human rights of North Korean defectors,” it said.