26 February 1997|
Bundang, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
|Known for||Defection to South Korea|
|Parent(s)||Song Hye-rang (mother)|
|Revised Romanization||Yi Han-yeong
N. Ri Han-yeong
N. Ri Han-yŏng
|Revised Romanization||Ri Il-nam
S. Yi Il-nam
S. Yi Il-nam
Ri's mother Song Hye-rang's younger sister Song Hye-rim was a mistress of Kim Jong-il; Ri's mother raised Kim Jong-il's and Hye-rim's son Kim Jong-nam alongside Ri and Ri's sister Nam-ok at a secluded villa outside of Pyongyang in order to keep Jong-nam's parentage a secret from Kim Il-sung. He went abroad to Moscow for university, and then defected to South Korea in 1982 while studying at a language school in Switzerland.
Life in South Korea
After defecting, he initially attempted to keep his identity a secret, changing his name and even going as far as undergoing plastic surgery. His life in the South was troubled. He first studied drama at Hanyang University, and married in 1989; however, in 1991, a construction company he started went bankrupt, and he was jailed for 10 months on charges of embezzlement. In 1996, due to his ongoing financial difficulties, Yi made his identity as Kim Jong-il's nephew known publicly, selling the story of his aunt Song Hye-rim's exile in Moscow to South Korean newspapers, and then publishing a book about his experiences entitled Taedong River Royal Family.
Death by shooting
Yi was shot on 15 February 1997 near his home in Bundang, Gyeonggi-do by two assailants who were never caught; they were suspected of being members of the Korean People's Army's Special Forces based on analysis of the bullets taken from Yi's body, which were fired from a Belgian-made Browning pistol. He was taken to hospital and kept on life-support, but succumbed to his wounds on 26 February.
South Korean prime minister Lee Soo-sung initially stated that the attack was an act of retaliation for the defection of Hwang Jang-yop, who at the time was living in the South Korean embassy in Beijing. The publication of Yi's tell-all book and the defection of his mother in Switzerland the previous year may have served as additional factors in making him a target of the regime in the North. Others speculated at the time that his murder was not politically motivated, but was instead related to his gambling debts or a dispute with a lover.
- Yi, Han-yong (1996), 《대동강 로열패밀리 서울잠행 14년》 [Taedong River Royal Family: my 14 years incognito in Seoul], Donga Ilbo, ISBN 89-7090-110-8
- Geo, Jae (1997-02-19), "이한영씨 피격 수사 ‘갈팡질팡’ [Investigation into shooting of Mr. Yi Han-yong 'incoherent']", Munhwa Ilbo, retrieved 2010-07-08
- "独裁者の秘密を徹底検証 ドキュメンタリー金正日 第６１回：高英姫が産んだ3人の子供たち", Hokkaido 365, 2007-05-12, retrieved 2010-07-08
- Gim, Song-a (2007-02-26), "이한영 피살 10년 추도식 [Memorial service for 10th anniversary of Yi Han-yong's murder]", Daily NK, retrieved 2007-10-30
- Lee, Adriana S. (2003-06-23), "Secret Lives", Time Magazine, retrieved 2007-10-29
- Pollack, Andrew (1997-02-17), "Korean shooting is casting cloud on signs of thaw", The New York Times, retrieved 2007-10-30
- Pollack, Andrew (1997-02-18), "Allied Friction in Korea", The New York Times, retrieved 2007-10-30