A North Korean defector said Kim Jong Un plans to kidnap Americans if tensions with the U.S. continue to escalate.
Ung-gil Lee told the Daily Mail that if the U.S. attacks the rogue nation, a special forces group armed with deadly nerve agents will be deployed into South Korea to kidnap tourists, businessmen, and diplomats.
“The best case [for his old unit] would be to round them up and take them north, but if not they will take the foreigners hostage in South Korea.
“But they will all be killed, come what may – this goes hand in hand with assassination,” Lee, who served in one of these units for six years, told the Daily Mail.
Lee, a former corporal in the 11th Storm Corps, says his former comrades have been trained to carry out Islamic State-style terror attacks. The 37-year-old, who now works as a financial adviser in Seoul after defecting from the repressive regime in 2006, warns that if attacked, Kim Jong Un will respond very differently from Syria’s President Bashar Assad: ‘He is going to fight back and use all retaliatory measures. Unless Trump thinks he can get rid of him, he must not carry out an attack.’
Lee was recruited to join North Korea’s infamous special forces aged 17. Following one year of brainwashing ‘re-education’, he spent five years training as a communications officer.
The nation is thought to have 200,000 men and women in the world’s biggest special forces, with 140,000 in infantry groups and 60,000 in Lee’s 11th Storm Corps. They are renowned for extreme training that includes boxing fights before dinner every night, punching trees and swimming in freezing seas. Elite units are trained to infiltrate South Korea by air, sea and through a network of tunnels built by forced labourers.
North Korea has a long history of kidnapping people for a number of reasons. In 2002, Kim Jong Il admitted that his special forces got “carried away by a reckless quest for glory” in their kidnapping of 12 people from Japan during the 1970s and 1980s. “It was regretful and I want to frankly apologize,” the late leader told then-Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
According to Human Rights Watch, North Korean agents have also kidnapped people from South Korea as well as “China, Thailand, Europe, and the Middle East.”
While there have been no confirmed cases of U.S. citizens being kidnapped by North Korea, two Americans—Otto Warmbier and Kim Dong Chul—are currently being detained in the country, with allegations that a third—David Sneddon—may be as well.