- The Washington Times - Friday, October 31, 2003

Hwang Jang Yop, the highest-ranking North Korean official to have defected to South Korea, yesterday said North Korean leader Kim Jong-il should be “eliminated,” and ended speculation that he would seek asylum in the United States.

“To solve the problem of North Korea, it is required to abolish the Kim Jong-il dictatorship and democratize North Korea,” Mr. Hwang said in a statement given to dozens of Korean Americans, U.S. dignitaries and reporters attending a luncheon for the Defense Forum Foundation.

Without advocating violence, Mr. Hwang said “Kim Jong-il should be eliminated. His regime should be eliminated.”

Titled “What America Needs to Know About North Korea,” the eight-page written statement circulated by Mr. Hwang said democratization of North Korea should begin with the introduction of “minimum economic reform that can be allowed within the Kim dictatorship.”

A former secretary of North Korea’s ruling Workers Party and the architect of the self-reliance ideology embraced there, Mr. Hwang has been a serious critic of Kim Jong-il since defecting six years ago.

Mr. Hwang, who some have called North Korea’s Ahmad Chalabi — referring to the formerly exiled Iraqi — is on his first-ever visit to the United States since he turned up in Seoul in early 1997.

As he met with and briefed members of Congress this week, speculation had risen over whether Mr. Hwang might attempt to stay in the United States to pursue the formation of an exile government similar to Mr. Chalabi’s Iraqi National Congress.

“I don’t see why I would want to live in the United States,” Mr. Hwang said yesterday in response to a question he called a “big insult.”

Briefly scolding the audience member who posed the question in Korean, Mr. Hwang said: “I don’t think like that and it’s not right for you to think like that.” He said that when he moved to Seoul from North Korea in 1997, people called him a defector when, actually, he was moving to live in his “fatherland.”

When he defected, Mr. Hwang left behind his family in Pyongyang. His wife and daughter are said since to have committed suicide. A second daughter and a son reportedly are held in North Korean labor camps.

Noting he had left family in North Korea, Mr. Hwang stressed the importance for people who seek asylum in the United States not to “disown” their families or leave in their past the realities of a poor country they have fled.

Later on in the question and answer session, an audience member stood, saying he wished to give Mr. Hwang a gift. The audience member then made his way to the podium and presented Mr. Hwang a copy of the U.S. Constitution, which Mr. Hwang quietly accepted.

Mr. Hwang, 80, also apologized several times during the question and answer session, telling those who asked about North Korea’s nuclear-weapons capabilities that he didn’t feel qualified to answer such questions and preferred not to speculate.

He said that when he was a member of the North Korean regime, there were “high ranking talks” about the nuclear-weapons program and the program was kept very secret from the Russians and the Chinese.

In his statement, Mr. Hwang wrote that the second step in democratizing North Korea is to abolish the Kim dictatorship and “pursue a democratic and peaceful reunification of the North and South.”

Citing what he called America’s “strategy in democratizing the world starting with the antiterrorism war,” Mr. Hwang wrote it is “right for the South Koreans, who have realized the value and power of American democracy through their historical experiences, to strengthen its allegiance with the U.S. by actively supporting the American war on terrorism until the completion of world democracy.”

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