A South Korean court on Wednesday jailed a North Korean defector for four years over a plot to kill an outspoken anti-Pyongyang activist with a poison-tipped weapon.
The man, identified only as An, was allegedly ordered by North Korea to assassinate fellow defector Park Sang-Hak, who along with other activists floats leaflets fiercely critical of the North's regime across the border.
An was in possession of a poison-tipped needle and other weapons when he was arrested in September. He was found guilty of violating South Korea's tough security law, a court in Seoul said.
An had sought to meet Park at a subway station in Seoul, but Park, alerted by South Korea's anti-espionage agency, did not show up.
North Korean spies have been known to enter the South pretending to be defectors. All new arrivals undergo screening to weed out North Korean agents. Yonhap news agency said An was recruited by a North Korean agent overseas while working for the South's intelligence agency.
The North has a history of trying to silence critics in the South.
In 1997, Lee Han-Young, a nephew of Sung Hye-Rim—the deceased first wife of North Korea's late leader Kim Jong-Il—was shot dead outside his apartment in South Korea.
Lee, who had lived in the South for 15 years, was murdered after breaking his long silence about Kim's private life.