N Korean spies hunt fugitive

Written By komlim puldel on Kamis, 01 Januari 2015 | 20.01

Kim Jong-un is said to be furious after dispatching agents to Paris to kidnap a North Korean architecture student, only for the student to escape and go into hiding. Source: AFP

A YOUNG man studying architecture at a prestigious French college has become one of North Korea's most wanted fugitives after thwarting a kidnap attempt by agents sent to force him home.

He was one of 10 North Koreans hand-picked by Kim Jong-un in 2012 to take a five-year course at the famed Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Architecture de Paris-La Villette as part of a cultural and economic exchange between the two countries.

The prestigious Ecole Nationale Superieure d'Architecture de Paris-La Villette Source: Supplied

Han is the son of an adviser to Jang Song-thaek, the once powerful uncle Kim put to death last December for treason. Han's father was recently "purged" — the North Korean euphemism for execution and imprisonment — as part of the dictator's mission to rid his government of everyone who had been close to Jang.

According to the South Korea-based Yonhap News Agency, Han disappeared about a month ago after escaping the clutches of Pyongyang agents sent to Paris to retrieve him.

In this December 13, 2013 photo, Kim's once powerful uncle Jang Song-Thaek is escorted to court after the dictator ordered his execution for treason. Source: AFP

"I asked other students and faculty members about Han's whereabouts but nobody has seen him, at least for the past 15 days," a senior official at Han's school told the agency.

The official, who requested anonymity, claimed French police had come looking for Han just over a week ago.

Another unnamed source told Yonhap that Han had been picked up by North Korean agents but "dramatically escaped" while being transported to an airport and was now staying at "a certain location".

New Year's Eve North Korean-style: Pyongyang residents watch a fireworks display in Kim Il Sung Square early this morning. Source: AP

Kim is said to be furious over his escape, not least because Han may have sown the seeds of dissent among his fellow students, who are destined to play a crucial role in Kim's grand plan grand plan to create a spectacular, world-class skyline in the country's capital.

In the immediate aftermath of Jang's execution, Kim reportedly recalled a number of Jang's former associates from their overseas posts, including Pyongyang's deputy delegate to UNESCO in Paris.

Ironically, The Interview has become a symbol for free speech in America despite having been panned by critics everywhere as an utterly terrible movie. Source: AFP

Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun ran an article — citing unnamed sources — alleging 16 of the returnees has since been executed but those figures have never been officially confirmed

Agents from both North and South Korea are reportedly hunting Han down. If caught by the North, Han faces an indefinite jail term or even execution. The South is likely to offer asylum.

The case could spark a diplomatic row between North Korea and France if the allegations of a kidnap attempt prove true.

North Korea is already involved in a number of ugly political stoushes, the most prominent being the Sony hacking scandal which has wreaked havoc in Hollywood.

Kim Jong-un walks past his uncle Jang Song Thaek, left, during a parade marking the 70th birthday of his father, the late Kim Jong Il. Less than two years later, the young dictator would have Jang put to death. Source: Supplied

The hackers, a group called the Guardians of Peace, claimed the attack was revenge for Sony's production of The Interview, a movie featuring the assassination of Kim Jong-un. They threatened 9/11-style retribution if it was released.

Sony complied but, after heavy domestic criticism, made The Interview available online and in select cinemas on Christmas Day.

The US claims North Korea masterminded the whole thing but North Korean officials have denied any involvement, accusing President Barack Obama of spouting wild allegations "like a monkey in a tropical rainforest".

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