The highest ranking North Korean to defect in decades warns against underestimating the threat posed by his county’s dictator Kim Jong-un. Thae Yong-ho, formerly North Korea’s deputy ambassador in London, speaks to Bill Whitaker for a story that takes viewers to the front lines in a tense and continuous standoff between nuclear-armed North Korea and U.S. ally South Korea that dates back to 1953. Whitaker’s report from Seoul, South Korea, and from the border with North Korea will be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Thae fears Kim will kill him; just a few days ago, the dictator’s estranged half-brother was poisoned in Malaysia in a murder believed carried out by North Korean agents. Thae had several bodyguards around him when Whitaker spoke to him. “Kim Jong-un’s capability to wreak harm , not only to America, but also South Korea and the world, should not be underestimated,” says Thae.
Armed with a small, limited-range nuclear arsenal, North Korea is trying to build an intercontinental ballistic missile. It’s believed such a weapon could eventually be fitted with a nuclear warhead and threaten American cities. “Kim Jong-un strongly believes that once he possesses an ICBM, then he can easily scare off America,” Thae tells Whitaker.
Besides its nuclear…