When Im Chun-yong made his daring escape from North Korea, with a handful of his special forces men, there were many reasons why the North Korean government was intent on stopping them.
They were, after all, part of Kim Jong-il’s elite commandos - privy to a wealth of military secrets and insights into the workings of the reclusive regime.
But among the accounts they carried with them is one of the most shocking yet to emerge – namely the use of humans, specifically mentally or physically handicapped children, to test North Korea’s biological and chemical weapons.
“If you are born mentally or physically deficient, says Im, the government says your best contribution to society… is as a guinea pig for biological and chemical weapons testing.”
Even after settling into the relative safety of South Korea, for 10 years Im held on to this secret, saying it was too horrific to recount.
But with Kim’s health reportedly failing, and the country appearing increasingly unpredictable, Im felt it was time he spoke out.