Posted : 2010-10-10 11:18
Updated : 2010-10-10 11:18

Highest-ranking N. Korean defector found dead

Hwang Jang-yop, a former secretary to the North Korean Workers’ Party who defected to South Korea in 1997, died of a suspected heart attack at his home in Seoul Sunday, police and government sources said. He was 87.

Hwang, the highest-ranking North Korean official ever to defect to the South who is known as the main architect of the North's "juche" or self-reliance ideology, has been a vocal critic of the reclusive North Korean regime since his defection.

Police said a security guard found Hwang dead in the bathroom of his home, according to Yonhap News Agency. There were no signs of a break-in at his house, where he stays with a security guard, a police officer was quoted as saying.

A government source said on condition of anonymity that "Hwang has usually taken a hip bath between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. every day," Yonhap said.

Hwang has lived under police protection in an unknown location for security reasons.

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