PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK - North Korea has been known to use women as part of its clandestine operations, some of which involve murder.
For example, the now-exiled Kim Hyun Hee was one of many such women involved in the isolated regime's plots. She revealed her exploits in an interview with Australia's ABC News in April 2013.
After eight years of training, she was groomed by North Korean spymasters to conduct the deadly bombing of Korean Air Flight 858, which killed 115 people in 1987.
The attack was planned to deter foreign teams from taking part in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
She was only 25 years old when she and her co-conspirator were captured in Bahrain, both of them biting down on cyanide pills to kill themselves rather than being captured.
Kim, however, survived and after her defection, now lives in a secret location in South Korea surrounded by bodyguards for fear of North Korean assassins.
Not all female agents employed by North Korea are used for violent purposes. It was revealed in 2014 by a former elite North Korean official that the country operated a "seed-bearing programme".
In this scheme, according to a Telegraph report, high-level visitors to Pyongyang would be provided an attractive consort and months later, would be blackmailed by news of a child.
Leveraging on this blackmail, the North Korean government would demand favourable stories or even business opportunities by targeted journalists and businessmen.