Hwang Jang Yop, the President of the Committee for Democratization of North Korea who passed away this morning, was the man at the top of the Kim Jong Il regime hit list.
The highest former North Korean official in the defector community, he knew the nature of the Kim regime inside out, so was able to release clear and accurate criticisms of the Kim Jong Il dictatorship over the course of countless lectures, columns and books.
He put the emphasis mainly on the democratization of North Korea, pointing out that North Korean human rights problems cannot be solved without root and branch reform of the North Korean system. When participants in his lectures asked about Kim Jong Eun, he would often answer, “Why do you need to know about a child like that?” or “What’s the purpose of such a little guy?”
Meanwhile, Kim Jong Il threatened to eliminate Hwang in various ways. Kim Myung Ho and Dong Myung Kwan, two agents sent by the General Bureau of Reconnaissance, were caught in April; they had been ordered to “not leave Hwang Jang Yop to die a natural death. Cut his throat.”
Back in 2006, Won Jung Hwa disguised herself as a defector in order to get information on the whereabouts of high level defectors including Hwang. She was an agent with North Korea’s National Security Agency, based in China.
Some time even before that, the North Korean authorities delivered a package containing a threatening letter, a hatchet and Hwang’s photo covered in red paint to the offices of Free North Korea Broadcasting (Free NK). The letter declared, “A traitor should definitely be paid back.”
Yet, despite continuous threats against his person, Hwang never flinched. After the two spies, Kim and Dong, were arrested, he said, “After all, since these are the only things Kim Jong Il can do, he will keep attempting to do them,” and added, “Am I not too old to pay attention to such a thing? Isn’t this a good chance to let people know how vicious the North Korean regime is through the very existence of me?”
In April, a Japanese newspaper, Mainichi Shimbun, revealed education materials for cadres which it said circulated after Hwang’s defection in 1997, which referred to Hwang as “a traitor worse than a dog,”
Kim Jong Il insisted in the documents, according to the report, “He is not a human but an animal.”
It added, “Since he worked in educational and propaganda sections, he does not have any knowledge related to the work of the state and military secrets. Therefore, even if ‘secret intelligence’ comes from him, it will be fake, fabricated according to a South Chosun puppet scenario.”
After his defection, Rodong Shinmun also criticized him publicly, saying, “Traitor to the revolution. Let go if you want. We will protect our socialism.”
According to defectors, the North Korean media released strong slogans at the time such as, “We must be loyal to the General with the willing spirit to kill ourselves in the bosom of the General,” in order to forge internal solidarity.