Though there have been many scandals and crimes committed at the Olympics for decades, from audacious, systematic cheating to violent political protests, none were quite so insidious as Kim Jong-il's attempt to derail the '88 Seoul Games with a devastating act of terror. On November 29th, 1987 - just a few months before the Olympic Games were scheduled to begin - two North Koreans ended the lives of 115 people on board Korean Air Flight 858 in an act of political violence.
When they were eventually cornered in Bahrain, the agents attempted to take their own lives with cyanide capsules. Kim Hyon-hui, one of the elite agents, survived and was brought to South Korea to be tried for her involvement. There, they learned who she really was: a highly trained North Korean espionage agent whose mission had been masterminded by Kim Jong-il, North Korea's then Chairman of the National Defence Commission.
At an early age, Hyon-hui was spotted by North Korean authorities as a potential spy due to her intelligence, good looks, and prodigious abilities with foreign languages. At the age of 18, she was taken from her family forever and trained over the next seven years to become one of their most exacting agents. When she was 25, she was given her first ever mission: to destroy KAL Flight 858. She was told that her actions would ultimately cause North and South Korea to be reunified.
But after being captured, Hyon-hui realized she'd been duped and indoctrinated by her own government, and she confessed the entirety of her role in the 1988 Korean Olympics tragedy. Later, she wrote a memoir expressing the pain and guilt she's carried over her deeds, and she has since become a source of intel and information for the South Korean government in its surveillance work against the North. Here are the most interesting facts surrounding Kim Hyon-hui's espionage and the device she detonated before the 1988 Olympics.
Korean Air Flight 858 Blew Over The Andaman Sea And Ended The Lives Everyone On Board
Kim Jong-il’s Plan Was To Destabilize South Korea And Frighten Other Nations From Attending The Olympics
Kim Hyon-hui Was Trained In Espionage And Assassination Starting At The Age Of 18
Hyon-hui And Her Fellow Spy Bit Into Cyanide-Laced Cigarettes To Prevent Capture, But She Survived
Hyon-hui Confessed To The Plot After She Realized That She Was Deceived By Her Own Government
She Received The Death Penalty For Her Role, But Was Pardoned By The South Korean President