North Korea’s version of MI6 managed to infiltrate two United Nations agencies with a father-and-son team of spies.
The World Food Programme (WFP) confirmed that Kim Su Gwang, 38, is no longer in his position at its headquarters in Rome. Mr Kim was one of two UN employees named as North Korean intelligence officers. The other was his father, Kim Yong Nam, 67, who worked in Paris on a contract for the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
The exposure of the father-and-son team lifted the veil on North Korea’s efforts to infiltrate international organizations. The two Kims were both named as members of the Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB), the North Korean intelligence agency charged with conducting clandestine operations abroad, one of North Korea’s four intelligence services.
The WFP is one of the few international organizations with a presence inside North Korea. This could explain why North Korean intelligence chose to target the WFP, said John Swenson-Wright, the head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House. “It may be that the North Koreans questioned the independence and objectivity of the WFP’s efforts,” he said. “It would be difficult to convince them that your interest is purely humanitarian and you won’t be gathering sensitive information.”
The WFP still has a presence inside North Korea. Mr Smerdon said the agency was helping 1.1 million women and children across the country who “suffer from chronic malnutrition due to a diet lacking in key micro-nutrients”.