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Defector: Kim wants to rule all Korea

"After Kim Jong-il came to power, millions of people starved to death," Hwang said.

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North Korea
Nuclear Warfare
South Korea

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's biggest ambition is to rule over a unified, Communist Korea, the North's highest-ranking defector said in an interview published Tuesday.

Hwang Jang-yop, speaking through an interpreter, also said that Kim Jong-il was "brilliant" as a dictator but a failure as a leader and has turned his country into a prison.

A former mentor to Kim Jong-il, Hwang told The Washington Times that Kim's "priority in life is to become the supreme ruler of the unified Chosun, or as you call it, Korea."

Hwang, 81, was a mentor to Kim and was a confidant of Kim Il Sung, the North's late leader and father of the current leader.

"Before Kim Jong-il came to power, there was his father, Kim Il Sung. No one starved to death under Kim Il Sung. However after Kim Jong-il came to power, millions of people starved to death. The economy has been destroyed and the whole government and the country became one big prison," Hwang said.

"As a leader of his people, this man has been a failure. However, as a dictator, in maintaining his dictatorial regime, this man has been brilliant," Hwang told The Washington Times.

Hwang said in the interview that he does not believe Kim Jong-il would initiate a war against South Korea unless he was certain that he would prevail. He also said that the North Korean leadership's failures led it to seek nuclear weapons to maintain its grip on power and that Kim would be willing to use nuclear weapons in a conflict with the South.

"I would think that by having these warheads, it would be possible to maintain the status quo of the dictatorial regime of North Korea." Hwang said " And also possibly use them against South Korea, to occupy South Korea by force."

Concluding a weeklong visit to the United States Tuesday, Hwang also told the newspaper that he believes the U.S. war against terrorism is essentially a fight for human rights and should be extended to North Korea.

"I believe we need to have a common cause where we are fighting against the dictatorship for the purpose of establishing human rights and restoring human rights for people, and that is the principle of democracy that I believe that should be applied when it comes to North Korea," Hwang said.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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