TOKYO, FEB. 4 -- A North Korean support group here today disputed South Korea's accusation that North Korean agents blew up a civilian airliner last fall and raised questions about the South Korean account.
The group charged that a woman who confessed to being a North Korean agent in Seoul last month is in fact a South Korean agent. No evidence for that accusation was presented. Nor did evidence offered by the group challenge the basic outline of South Korea's version of events, which have been accepted by Washington and Tokyo.
But the group did raise several questions about Seoul's story that South Korean officials were unable, at least initially, to answer.
The group challenged the accuracy of photographs that South Korea said show the agent as a young girl in Pyongyang. South Korea had presented the photographs as the sole independent evidence that the woman grew up in North Korea.
The group also released two versions of a page of Kim's handwritten confession that appeared to show that her testimony was altered to remove a South Korean word usage and make it sound more North Korean.
"The South Korean announcement might have some minor mistakes, but just in minor parts only," said Park Jung Ho, a spokesman for the South Korean Embassy here. "Nothing they said would reverse the general mainstream of our investigation."
Korean Air Flight 858 from Baghdad to Seoul disappeared Nov. 29 without any indications of trouble. Investigators believe it exploded over the Andaman Sea near Burma, killing all 115 on board.
Two Asians posing as a Japanese father and daughter traveled on the first leg of the flight and got off in Abu Dhabi. When police questioned them after the jet was reported missing, the man took cyanide and died while the woman failed in her suicide attempt.
The woman subsequently confessed to being North Korean agent Kim Hyon Hui. She said her government had ordered her to place explosives on the plane as part of a plot to show the world that South Korea would be an unsafe location for the 1988 Olympic Games.
As part of its evidence, the South Korean intelligence agency released what it said were photographs of Kim as a middle-school child handing flowers to a visiting South Korean delegation in Pyongyang. But the support group today released photographs of the same event, which appeared to show that the ceremony in question took place at Panmunjom three months earlier than described. If so, there would have been no schoolgirls from Pyongyang present, the group said, and the South's biography of Kim would be called into question.
The results of the investigation "are a complete, made-up frame job," said Lik Jin Gyu, first vice chairman of the General Assocation of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chosen Soren, which represents Korean residents of Japan who sympathize with the communist North.
Special correspondent Shigehiko Togo contributed to this report.