North Korean Agents in Rangoon 1983

[ 1983 ]

In October 1983, President Chun Doo Hwan of South Korea paid a state visit to Burma. On 9 October, he went to lay a wreath at the martyrs' memorial in Rangoon, which commemorates Thankin Aung San, founder of independent Burma, who was assassinated in 1947. Chun's car was delayed by traffic, and just before he arrieve, a bomb demolished the memorial, killing 21 and wounding 46. The dead included the Korean foreign minister, Lee Bum Suk, the economic planning minister and deputy prime minister, Suh Suk Joon, and the minister for commerce and industry, Kim Dong Whie. The others were advisers to the president, jounalists and security personnel.

Just before the explosion, the South Korean ambassador had arrived in a large car and a bugler had begun to practise "The Last Post". Presumably the terrorists, watching from a distance, had assumed that the president had arrived and the ceremony was beginning, and so detonated the bomb by radio. Three bombs had been concealed in the roof of the memorial; only one exploded.

Two days later, police arrested their first suspect, who tried to blow himself up with a hand grenade. The same day, villagers reported two suspicious foreigners to police, and when the latter approached them, they, too, tried to commit suicide with grenades (one succeeded) and three policemen were killed. The two wounded men were found to be North Koreans, and confessed that they had been sent to assassinate President Chun.


[T]he 1983 Rangoon assassination attempt that killed seventeen South Korean government officials and four Burmese dignitaries...

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