Kim Hyon-hui

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Kim Hyon-hui (Korean: 김현희, born 27 January 1962) also known as Ok Hwa, is a former North Korean agent, responsible for the Korean Air Flight 858 bombing in 1987, which killed 115 people. She was arrested in Bahrain following the bombing and extradited to South Korea. There she was sentenced to death but later pardoned. In recent years, Kim has publicly expressed regret about the bombing and she has provided information about the state of affairs in North Korea as well as the possible state of abductees.



Interview with BBC (22 April 2013)


"The North Korean spy who blew up a plane" in BBC (22 April 2013)

  • I was told by a senior officer that before the Seoul Olympics we would take down a South Korean airliner. He said it would create chaos and confusion in South Korea. The mission would strike a severe blow for the revolution.
  • When I confessed, I did so reluctantly. I thought my family in North Korea would be in danger; it was a big decision to confess. But I began to realise it would be the right thing to do for the victims, for them to be able to understand the truth.
  • Kim Il-sung was a god-like figure. Anything that was ordered by him could be justified. Any order would be carried out with extreme loyalty. You were ready to sacrifice your life.
  • There is no other country like North Korea. People outside can't understand. The whole country is set up to show loyalty to the Kim royal family. It's like a religion. People are so indoctrinated. There are no human rights, no freedoms.
  • North Korea is in a desperate situation. Discontent with Kim Jong-un is so high; he has to put a lid on it. The only thing he has is nuclear weapons. That's why he has created this sense of war, to try to rally the population. He's doing business with his nuclear weapons.

Interview with NBC (23 January 2018)


"North Korean ex-spy Kim Hyon-hui casts doubt on Kim Jong Un's Olympic motives" in NBC (23 January 2018)

  • North Korea is using the Olympics as a weapon. It’s trying to escape the sanctions by holding hands with South Korea, trying to break free from international isolation.
  • When I was given the mission, my role was to disrupt the Seoul Olympics. North Korea thought that hosting the Olympics would permanently divide the Koreas ... and make South Korea more economically powerful than the North. So I was ordered to harm the ‘South Korean puppets’ by hitting the flight.
  • My mission was personally signed by Kim Jong-il. At the time, he oversaw all matters relating to South Korea. Living in North Korea is like being in huge prison and being treated like slaves. You didn’t question an order.
  • I was brainwashed that giving my life carrying out a mission ordered by the Kim family is an honor. So I took the mission thinking that the bombing will bring revolution in Korea and will contribute to the reunification of the Koreas.
  • The moment I boarded the flight I was thinking, 'This is an enemy state'. But then, placing the bomb, I was nervous, anxious, scared of being caught. I had a brief moment thinking that all the people in this plane will die, but I was frightened to even have such feelings. I wasn’t supposed to have such feelings. I was trained only to take orders like a robot. I tried to get rid of the feelings by thinking that for the sake of reunification these people had to be sacrificed. In North Korea, you can’t have these doubts, because if you do, it means your ideology has been corrupted and you’ll be executed or sent to a prison camp.
  • North Korea won’t give up its nuclear weapons. They’re its lifeline.
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