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South Korea Allows Top Defector to Travel Overseas


South Korean officials say the highest-ranking North Korean defector, a sharp critic of the North's leaders, will be allowed to freely travel overseas.

Until now, South Korean officials refused to let Hwang Jang-yop travel abroad, fearing he would become a target for assassination.

Since his 1997 defection, Hwang has only been allowed to travel overseas once. The 85-year-old was the architect of the North's philosophy of ("juche" or) self-reliance, and he once tutored Pyongyang's current leader Kim Jung Il.

He later became a fierce critic of the North.

Hwang has been kept at a secret location under tight security since he defected.

Last week, when South Korean officials announced the arrest of a North Korean spy, they revealed that one of the spy's objectives was to locate Hwang.