Accessibility links

S. Korea Arranging Japanese Meeting With Ex-N. Korean Terrorist

South Korean officials say they are arranging a meeting between a Japanese family and a former North Korean spy, convicted of blowing up an airliner more than 22 years ago. The announcement came as the two countries' foreign ministers met in the South Korean capital.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told reporters Wednesday his government will bring family members of a Japanese woman believed to have been abducted by North Korea in contact with a convicted North Korean terrorist.

Former North Korean spy Kim Hyun Hee admitted planting a bomb that blew up a South Korean airliner in 1987, killing 115 people. She was sentenced to death, but later pardoned, and lives in South Korea.

Yu says she will meet relatives of Yaeko Taguchi, a Japanese national believed to have been abducted by the North in the late 1970's.

He says the meeting will take place sometime soon and details are still being worked out.

North Korea has admitted abducting at least 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970's and 80's, mainly to train spies in Japanese language and culture. Tokyo demands more cooperation from Pyongyang in accounting for those people and for what it believes are even more abductions.

The ex-spy says she took Japanese lessons from Yaeko Taguchi and believes North Korea lied about her death in a 1986 car crash.

The planned meeting could be seen as a provocation by Pyongyang, at a time when North-South tensions are already high. Last month, Pyongyang announced it was scrapping past peace accords with the South.

Foreign Minister Yu's meeting Wednesday in Seoul with his Japanese counterpart, Hirofumi Nakasone, took place amid warnings the North may be preparing a test launch of a long-range ballistic missile.

He says the two ministers share concerns about North Korea's recent hardline stance. They call on North Korea to act responsibly and contribute to regional stability.

Nakasone says peace and stability require dealing with a number of problems, not just related to security.

He says it is necessary to devise a comprehensive solution to the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles, as well as human rights problems, including the abduction issue.

Both ministers are expecting to meet next week with new U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she visits the region.