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Seoul’s spy agency drew up report about NK involvement right after 1987 KAL bombing

Sept. 17, 2018 - 18:02 By Yonhap
South Korea’s spy agency drew up a document with details about North Korea’s involvement in the 1987 midair bombing of a Korean Air flight just three days after the bombing took place and killed all 115 people aboard, court records showed Monday.

The document of the then-Agency for National Security Planning was about the code-named Operation Rainbow aimed at taking advantage of the Nov. 29 bombing to sway public opinion in favor of the then-ruling party candidate in the presidential election just a few weeks away.

Three pages of the five-page document have been classified, and a journalist filed a suit demanding its full disclosure. But the Seoul Administrative Court recently rejected the demand, saying its disclosure could have negative effects on diplomatic relations with foreign countries.

Wreckage of Korean Air flight 858. (Yonhap)

Still, it has been confirmed during the process of the lawsuit that the document included specific details about the culprits -- Kim Hyon-hee and her accomplice Kim Sung-il, who killed himself right after arrest -- such as how they were arrested and what they did before the bombing.

In addition, the document also included information about Kim Sung-il’s link to North Korea, as well as strategies for using the case on the international stage, such as increasing cooperation with foreign countries, including those with close ties with the North.

The revelation could further deepen suspicions about how the spy agency was able to draw up such a detailed report just a few days after the bombing happened.

Critics and some bereaved families of the bombing have raised suspicions about North Korea’s involvement in the bombing, claiming there is no objective evidence except Kim Hyon-hee’s confession to prove it was the North that blew up the jet.

The bombing led the United States to designate the North as a state sponsor of terrorism. The designation was removed in 2008 in exchange for progress in negotiations to end Pyongyang’s nuclear program. (Yonhap)