Kim was born in North Korea in 1962 and she was recruited by her country’s secret service agency when she was nineteen. She was given extensive physical training as well as training in handling firearms and explosives. She and another agent were given an important assignment – to blow up Korean Airlines Flight 858. Kim was told that the order came from Kim Jong II, the de facto leader of North Korea.
Kim and the other agent boarded Flight 858 and placed a bomb in it. They disembarked at the stop over at Abu Dhabi. The Flight 858 flew towards its destination Bangkok but exploded over Bay of Bengal killing all the 115 persons aboard. This was in 1987. [Link
Kim and her accomplice travelled to Bahrain where they were apprehended. The accomplice consumed cyanide and died, but Kim’s attempt was unsuccessful, she survived.
Kim was tried in South Korea. Kim was shown the prosperity of South Korea. She realised that North Korea had given her information about South Korea which was nothing but propaganda. She was sentenced to death in March 1989. Kim was pardoned by South Korea’s President. She lives in South Korea today and is married. She has published her autobiography ‘Tears of my Soul’ and has given away the proceeds to the Flight 858 victims’ families.
The US State Department refers to Flight 858 bombing as a ‘Terrorist Act’. UN Security council discussed the matter but could not pass any resolution.
[There are, of course, some allegations. A section of American Press said ‘it was unknown whether Kim was coerced in her remarks or her remorse for her action’. It is also alleged that her autobiography may not be authentic in as much as translations may not be reliable.]
There are several parallels that we can see with India- Pakistan – Kasab situation. A unified country was divided by foreign powers. One was under democratic rule while the other was otherwise. One is alleged to be involved or aided terrorist activity. Large numbers of people were killed in the action in which the terrorist was involved. There is no doubt about involvement of the person charged. And so on….
The story points out some possibilities for action in Kasab case: [a] Government of India can hang Kasab after he is held guilty; [b] Government of India can pardon him and use him, like Kim, to show to the world that the real criminals are those who recruited Kasab and directed him to conduct the terrorist operation. This would call for very skilful handling of the entire case.
If South Korea can do it, why not India? After all, the second option gives greater credit and political mileage to India. And that Mr. Karkare’s daughter feels that Kasab should not be sent to gallows sets the stage for such an action.
It requires great skill and will to do what South Korea did. Do you think our leaders have it?