North Korea Sent Honeytrap Girls To Have Children With Foreigners To Control Them
Eating her lunch in the Pyongyang Arts School canteen, Ri Hyun-suk was a typically well-behaved North Korean student.
Her dress conformed to the strict conventions dictated by the Workers’ Party leadership, her smile was fixed, and she spoke only when spoken to.
But behind her conformist nature, Ri was physically different, a child of mixed parentage, a product of the sinister regime’s “seed-bearing programme”.
Her Japanese dad had been the unknowing victim of a honeytrap scheme in which female agents were dispatched to seduce high-ranking foreign visitors to the secretive state.
At the behest of Kim Jong-il, the father of current North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un, the women’s task was to become pregnant by their lovers.
Once Hyun-suk’s mum knew she was having a baby, she contacted the dad, said to be a politician, and blackmailed him. It sounds too bizarre even for North Korea, but a defector who once held a senior post there claims the programme trapped hundreds of foreigners.
Jang Jin-sung, author of the memoir Dear Leader, says Kim’s aim was to lure businessmen into investing in his state, journalists to write positive stories about it, and foreign politicians to back North Korea at summits.
GettyKim Jong-Un visiting the multiple-rocket launching drill of women”s sub-units under the Korean People”s Army Unit 851 at an undisclosed location
The real victims, children like Hyun-suk, lived apart from others in Pyongyang.
But despite effectively being hostages, they were pampered in a comfort few others there enjoy so they could one day be sent abroad as spies. Hyun-suk’s unusual features would provide her with a convincing cover if caught during a mission. Jin-sung writes: “I first learned of this immense criminal operation when I was a student at Pyongyang Arts School. Among my classmates was a girl called Ri Hyun-suk.
“We had finished our lunches and were peeling tangerines to share when she confessed to me, ‘I’m Japanese’.
“I choked on a soft segment of fruit. I’d known her for years… how could she possibly be a foreigner? All citizens of North Korea had to be Korean. I laughed awkwardly. Hyun-suk began to cry and then left the room.” Jin-sung claims he visited Hyun-suk at a “luxurious private mansion” where she lived with her mum in a walled compound full of homes.
This hidden suburb of Pyongyang was a place for the children’s foreign fathers to visit, or – in some cases – live after marrying their North Korean lover.
Even though the programme sounds wildly outlandish, Jin-sung says it was one of many crazy policies approved by Kim Jong-il to prop up his discredited one-party state. Jin-sung was the regime’s official poet and among the Pyongyang elite known as “The Admitted” prior to his defection in January 2004.
He said recently: “It doesn’t matter to them if something is criminal and, to be honest, the seed-bearing programme is nothing compared to what they are willing to do. The regime mainly targets foreigners who go to Pyongyang and, over time, build up a friendship with the woman who has been assigned to them as a translator or assistant. But these women are in reality agents.
“The men don’t want to believe they have been fooled, they want to think that it is a genuine relationship.
“Some months later, when the man has left Pyongyang, he is told that the woman has had a baby.
“These men are specifically targeted because of their value to the North.” Jin-sung runs a website from the South Korean capital Seoul using information from sources north of the border.
He says the seed-bearing programme came about in the 80s after North Korea abducted Japanese citizens from remote beaches in Japan and shipped them to Pyongyang. As the Mirror revealed two years ago, the objective of these kidnaps was to use victims to train undercover agents in foreign languages and culture. North Korea also want to use snatched couples to breed Japanese sleeper agents.
ReutersNorth Korean female soldiers smile before a parade to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers” Party of Korea
But by 1999, when Jin-sung met Hyun-Suk, the leadership realised the 500 foreigners kidnapped to order were not as fiercely loyal to their new nation as they had hoped. Most pined for their home countries and their old lives.
Jin-sung says of the programme: “The idea was to create spies who looked foreign, but were North Koreans born and bred. The Party operatives pursued a two-fold tactic that involved kidnapping foreign women, and sending attractive North Korean women abroad to become pregnant with men who had white, black or brown skin. Their children are born in North Korea with different-coloured skin and the rest of their lives are spent in strict apartheid.
“Their health is looked after by Office 915 of the Party. Everything else is arranged by the most powerful entity in North Korea, the Party’s Organisation and Guidance Department.”
Jin-sung insists the blackmail against men like Hyun-suk’s dad continues.
He writes that her “mere presence” in Pyongyang provides leverage against her father and gives him incentive to “advocate for engagement strategies favourable to North Korea”.
Japan’s Socialist Party has denied any of its members have fathered children in North Korea, but it did have close ties with the communist nation until the abductions came to light in 2002.
Many in Japan believe the rumours to be true. This week Kim Jong-un held out an olive branch to his sworn enemies in the south, offering to meet for face-to-face talks with his rival leader.
In his New Year message he said the division of Korea, which has been in place since the Korean War ended in 1953, is no longer tolerable.
If the talks ever happen, one of the more awkward items on the agenda will be the seed-bearing scheme.
Dear Leader by Jang Jin-sung is published by Rider Books £13.99.VIEW GALLERY