S. Korean drug trafficker spies for enemy

Accused of spying for North Korea in China, a 55-year-old South Korean man was arrested last Thursday while on a brief trip to South Korea.

The China-North Korea border is a hotbed of activity for North Koreans looking to escape the clutches of an authoritarian government that offers little more than poverty and starvation to its citizens. From this area, South Korean activists and missionaries help North Koreans with defection, shelter, food and relocation to nations like South Korea and the U.S.

Of course, North Korea’s not too happy about the refugees streaming out of its supposedly wonderful state (more than 18,000 since 1953, when the war between the two Koreas ended in a tense truce). That’s where the recently arrested Kim (last name released only) comes in.

It all started when Kim was spending time in China’s eastern Shandong province in the late 90s, trafficking drugs. There he met a female North Korean agent, who recruited him to spy on behalf of North Korea in exchange for money and narcotics.

In 2000, Kim allegedly spent two weeks in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, where he received spy training plus $10,000 plus 2 kilos of drugs. Kim’s spy job? To head back to China, identify and kidnap South Korean activists, who would then be sent to North Korea with the help of the aforementioned female agent. Kim also allegedly kidnapped North Korean defectors who were still in hiding in China, en route to safer havens, and reported on the activity of South Korean intelligence in the area.

While Kim denies all charges, the prosecution has made it clear that he is suspected of having violated South Korea’s National Security Law, which could mean the death sentence.

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