29 October, 2011
Park Sung-Hak releasing balloons accross the China-North Korea boarder in April. Photo by Jung Yeon-je, AFP/Getty Images
Activists on the China-North Korean border risk arrest, jail and now assasination by poison needles. A 46-year old pastor, going by the name Patrick Kim, collapsed on August 21st in Dandong, a town in China overlooking North Korea. South Korean diplomats believed he was murdered by North Korean agents in retaliation to humanitarian efforts helping people escape North Korea. But one day later a South Korean missionary in China felt a pinprick, and heard a man apologize to him, before collapsing at an intersection. He luckily survived the attack. One month later South Korean intelligence announced that they arrested a North Korean defector, charging him with plotting a poison needle attack in Seoul on Park Sung-hak. Park is a human rights activist who recently launched balloons carrying anti-regime propaganda into North Korea. Only a basic autopsy on Patrick Kim’s body was conducted, as South Korea is cautious about blaming North Korea for the acts. Although activists have no doubt that Kim was murdered, South Korea is not prepared to take the action required with accusing the North.
For more information and interviews, read Barbara Demick’s article in the Los Angeles Times.