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Subject: North Korean military defector writes about missle program
Topolino    6/5/2003 12:02:29 PM
This appeared in todays WSJ. It's also available at the Journal's free op/ed site at: A Defector's Story My escape from North Korea--and South Korea. BY BOK KU LEE Thursday, June 5, 2003 12:01 a.m. Bok Ku Lee is not my real name, but one I've adopted to protect my family. For a number of years I served as head of the technical department at a munitions complex that made missile guidance systems and related electronic devices for North Korea's military. I was one of 100,000 or so scientific and professional people involved in the regime's weapons of mass destruction industry. While I made enough money to modestly feed my family, I witnessed mass starvation and oppression of those less fortunate, and unspeakable abuses of power and lifestyle excesses by senior political officials of the regime. As did everyone, I lived in constant fear of being sent to the gulag for the slightest indiscretion. Nonetheless, I was trusted with some of the regime's biggest secrets. While serving, I was sent to Iran to test launch one of our missiles with a new guidance system for the then-ruling Ayatollah Khomeini. I consulted with colleagues who were sent to serve on an operational war basis for Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War, and others who were sent to other countries to sell, service and install such missile systems. I ordered, supervised and monitored the foreign purchases of electronic and guidance material--90% of which came from Japanese suppliers. I worked with some of the 60 or so Russian scientists who had been "cherry picked" by the regime to work in Pyongyang's nuclear, atomic, chemical and biological warfare programs--and who continue to work there. Yet, like most of my fellow countrymen, I longed for the day when I could escape the Stalinist prison my country had become. That day came six years ago. I made my escape in July 1997 by crossing the Yalu River into China after sundown. I lived in China for two years with enough money, contacts and employable skills to make me less vulnerable to starvation or capture than most North Korean refugees. That said, I lived in constant terror of capture by Chinese authorities, for I knew that such capture would have resulted in a death sentence upon repatriation to the North. In 1999, thanks to an ethnic Korean in China who notified me of a fishing boat scheduled to ferry dozens of illegal laborers that very night, and, unknown to the operators of this boat, I escaped to South Korea as a true stowaway. Upon my arrival, I was debriefed by South Korea's National Intelligence Service, and occasionally put in the hands of unsophisticated American questioners in Seoul. Remarkably, the South Korean officials made it clear to me that I would be in danger if I were to speak out about the WMD programs I had worked on or the atrocities I had witnessed. It soon became obvious that they feared my testimony because it might jeopardize South Korea's "sunshine policy," which seeks to keep the North's repressive regime in power in order to avoid the economic consequences to the South were it to collapse. Incredibly, Seoul seems unwilling to accept that propping up Kim Jong Il's regime has had grave consequences for the world. While traveling to the China-North Korea border last year, I met with former colleagues and learned that the production at our old missile guidance system plant was up to normal levels following receipt by the regime of substantial amounts of foreign currency from the South. In 1997, when I left the plant, the output had shriveled to 30% of the pre-Nodong One launch in 1993 due to the lack of hard currency that had limited the capacity to pay for Japanese parts imports. Last year, facing increased pressures from the South Korean Intelligence Service to remain an invisible man, I decided to do all I could to escape from South Korea's hands. I obtained a passport under the pretense of traveling to Japan, and, with the aid of an underground-railroad activist, obtained a visa that brought me to the U.S. last month. While here, I put on a hood to protect my identity, held a press conference in Washington and testified before the Senate in open and closed sessions about what I know about Pyongyang's weapons of mass destruction. The reaction to my activities on the part of the South Korean intelligence was immediate. My wife, a North Korean escapee who'd been captured by the Chinese and sent to a North Korean prison before escaping again, was subjected to threatening phone calls from police and intelligence officials that so terrorized her as to cause her collapse and hospitalization. Thanks to the intervention of Sens. Richard Lugar, Peter Fitzgerald and Daniel Akaka--to whom I shall remain forever grateful--South Korean officials have since been contacted about the treatment of my wife, and the harassment and intimidation have, for the moment, ceased.
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Final Historian    RE:North Korean military defector writes about missle program   6/5/2003 5:03:56 PM
Excellent piece. North Korea is waiting to fall apart, all the US has to do is ignore it for a little while longer. Hopefully a short time though, for the sake of the North Korean people.
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American Kafir    RE:North Korean military defector writes about missle program   6/5/2003 5:11:56 PM
Waiting for NK to fall apart is prudent, but too often America gets the blame for all the people who starve to death in the meanwhile. Isn't there something we can do that is a happy medium between waiting for the dinosaurs to die and actively hunting them into extinction?
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Vulture    AK to avoid many deaths- you gotta have a few   6/5/2003 9:09:19 PM
Real time intel on KIJ II and a tac nuke are looking to be the only answer. Followed by an all band broadcast across North Korea to surrender with a general amnesty or else. Rarely do I support the use of nukes but they are the only counter to North Korea's ambition since they went nuclear. Anything else just fuels his regime. Where's a damned enlightened Coup when you need one?
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greytraveller    RE:AK to avoid many deaths- you gotta have a few   6/6/2003 11:09:21 AM
Unfortunately a coup is unlikely to take place Unless it is created by an outside major power. Only China seems capable of engineering such a coup. The US would need to enter into secret negotiations with the Chinese to get them to pull off that coup. The US would have to offer special concessions to the Chinese (an Understanding about Taiwan ?) Anyway that probably will not happen. Which leaves only 2 options for North Korea. Either the regime crumbles under the collapse of its own mismanagement and mistakes (resulting in continued starvation.) Or there is a war. Hope I am wrong. Time will tell.
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Tasha    RE:AK to avoid many deaths- you gotta have a few   8/19/2003 12:46:41 PM
The usa is clearly responsible here, they have not fulfilled their settlement and never did fulfill one piece of their previous agreement with north korea. North korea has more of a right to have nuclear arms than the united states.
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ghettovet    RE:AK to avoid many deaths- you gotta have a few   8/22/2003 12:16:26 PM
Who said having nukes is a right?? Seems more like a privilege to me. Just dont go waving them around everywhere, threatening your neighbors, and the privilege is yours. Is that asking too much??
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tomanbeg    RE:AK to avoid many deaths- you gotta have a few   8/24/2003 8:14:28 AM
Tasha, this is the same as saying that because a surgon uses a sharp knife, it is ok for Jack the Ripper to use one two. Absolute nonsense. Any government that uses mass murder to control it's citizens is evil and needs to be replaced. If N. Korea wants to play with nukes that is bad for S. Korea and Japan. they have no way of getting them to the USA. No matter who they use them on, the American response will be swift and automatic. It will also be the end of another failed Socialist State. I don't think there is an chance of a coup. The Soviet Union collapsed because the troops wouldn't shoot their fellow citizens. The chinese didn't appear to have a problem with shooting their follow citizens in cold blood. The Russians did. That is why Tinnaman Square didn't produce the fall of the Chinese government. I'm sure Kim paid attention to those 2 events and drew the right conclusions. T.
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