North Korea

Seoul unmasks terror of North Korea's assassination bid on its president

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 October, 2012, 3:19am

A Seoul newspaper has printed graphic, never-before-seen pictures of the bloody aftermath of North Korea's 1983 bid to assassinate South Korea's then president Chun Doo-Hwan.

The images of the bomb blast in Myanmar were taken by official government photographer Kim Sang-Yeong and had been kept private at the personal request of Chun out of respect for the victims' relatives.

Chun survived the October 9 bombing of the Aung San Martyrs' Mausoleum in Yangon, which killed 21 people, including three of his senior politicians.

The front page photo of the Chosun Ilbo showed mangled bleeding bodies lying in the debris of the collapsed building, as South Korean embassy staff scrambled to find survivors.

Chun's life was spared thanks to traffic congestion. He was only minutes away from the mausoleum when the bomb, concealed in the roof, went off.

Kim took images of burning bodies and bloodied victims screaming for help.

"We were lined up, waiting for the president's arrival," Kim said. "Then there was an ear-splitting thump and I passed out. When I came back to my senses, there was just blood, shouting and the stench of burning flesh and rubble. There were ministers dying on the ground. I thought, 'Oh, God, how could this happen?' and then started clicking away with my camera."

After giving his camera to a security guard, Kim lost consciousness and woke up in hospital.

The Chosun Ilbo has been campaigning for a monument to the victims of the bombing. Kim handed over the photos to help the publication's fundraising.

In their investigation, Myanmar police identified three North Korean agents who had come aboard a ship to Yangon and received explosives in the North Korean embassy.

Two days after the bombing, a pair of agents were arrested, while a third managed to kill three soldiers before being cornered and shot dead.