Shooting heightens Korean tension

The Korean defector crisis took a dramatic twist over the weekend when a North Korean living near Seoul was shot, apparently by agents of his former government.

Police set up roadblocks after the attack on Lee Han Young, a relative of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il. The attack appeared to be in retaliation for the defection last week of Hwang Jang Yop, a senior North Korean politician, who is under police protection in the South Korean embassy in Peking.

Mr Lee was shot at close range by two men in the entrance of an apartment building on Saturday. Police said the gun used was a Belgian-made Browning, a standard weapon of North Korean agents. Neighbours who helped Mr Lee said he muttered "Spy, spy" before losing consciousness. Surgeons failed to remove a bullet from his head and last night he was given little chance of surviving.

The South Korean cabinet met to discuss the incident and offered 50m won (pounds 36,750) for information about the assailants. "North Korea has threatened to take hundred- and thousandfold revenge for the Hwang incident," said the Prime Minister, Lee Soo Sung. "This attack shows the threat is something concrete."

Mr Lee is the nephew of a former wife of Mr Kim, and escaped to South Korea in 1982. He had been under police protection and even had plastic surgery. The attempt on his life will raise anxiety in Seoul about the extent of North Korean infiltration. Since his own attempted defection last Wednesday, Mr Hwang, 73, a member of the North Korean Workers' Party central committee, is reported to have told South Korean interrogators that Pyongyang has 50,000 active spies in the South.

In Peking, groups of North Koreans continued to loiter outside the South Korean consulate building, where Mr Hwang was spending a fifth day. Pyongyang claims that he was kidnapped and one of its diplomats told reporters in Peking that "if the South uses force to move him to South Korea we will respond with force. We are determined to prevent them from taking him to the South."

Armed Chinese police laid spikes on the road in front of an anti-riot truck mounted with a water cannon.

In Pyongyang, celebrations went ahead for the 55th birthday of Mr Kim; the state media published the eulogies of the "Dear Leader" but made no mention of Mr Hwang's defection. "The Great General Kim Jong Il is trusted absolutely, eternally and fully as if he were god," said the Rodong Sinmun newspaper. "The Korean people regard him as their god because he defends the destiny of the motherland, nation and people." Celebrations included performances of dances and songs with titles like "Health to the Supreme Commander" and "Defend the Headquarters".

A North Korean diplomat in Peking said: "The Dear Leader is a pillar in our minds.

"Hwang, deep in his mind, will be thinking of this day and we believe he will celebrate it as well."

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
News
news
Life and Style
Jack Cooksey goes for the grand unveiling - moments before dropping his new iPhone 6 on the floor
iphone launch
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
football
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£55 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: We are looking to recruit two ...

Primary supply teachers required in Ipswich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

Science Technician

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Preston: A school in Preston require a S...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week