SEOUL • North Korea has been known to use female agents as part of its clandestine operations, some of which involve murder.
These women undergo the same tough training as their male counterparts, reported South Korea's Chosun Ilbo. They must be skilled in taekwondo and have to practise endurance swimming.
They are trained in assassination and abduction techniques, and know how to plant explosives, said the newspaper.
In the 1970s and 1980s, female agents were widely used to kidnap Japanese citizens from Japan's coastal areas to train the North's spies in Japanese customs and language.
Kim Hyun Hee is one of the most prominent North Korean female agents. She underwent eight years of training to carry out the 1987 bombing of a South Korean plane, which killed all 115 people on board and led to the US listing North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.
North Korea also uses its attractive agents to set honey traps. One was Won Jeong Hwa, an agent who went to South Korea posing as a defector. She was arrested in July 2008 after having wheedled military secrets out of a number of senior officers.
More recently, North Korea has been using women to carry out operations in cyberspace. They would open Facebook accounts and pose as staff of fictitious companies to steal sensitive data from unsuspecting South Koreans.