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FBI- Accused gunman scouted U.N.

Saturday, October 5, 2002

NEW YORK -- An Illinois postal worker accused of shooting a pistol outside the United Nations while denouncing "the plight of the North Korean people" had scouted the area on a previous trip, court documents revealed Friday.

Steve Kim, 57, a naturalized citizen from Des Plaines, Ill., also had eaten little for two days before the shooting incident because he felt it would improve his survival prospects if he was shot and needed surgery, according to the documents.

Kim was awaiting a federal court appearance Friday on a two-count complaint of carrying a firearm and making a violent attack on foreign officials.

Investigators say he was standing outside the Secretariat building of the United Nations at 1:10 p.m. Thursday when he pointed a .357 revolver into the air and fired all seven rounds.

No one was injured, but two of the bullets struck the building as the Security Council was meeting on Iraq and Secretary-General Kofi Annan was holding talks with the Cypriot leaders in his office on the 38th floor. The bullets hit a restroom on the 18th floor and an American Express office on the 20th floor. U.N. Security Chief Michael McCann said some of the shots narrowly missed U.N. employees.

After emptying the pistol, the gunman dropped it on the ground, then tossed a handful of leaflets denouncing the North Korean government and waited to be arrested, according to witnesses.

Planned mission

In the court document, filed by FBI Special Agent Richard Frankel, said Kim told investigators he had traveled to New York in September to "reconnoiter the United Nations complex and to plan this 'mission."'

Kim also told agents he fired "to bring attention to the plight of the North Korean people whose suffering he blamed, in part, on the United Nations," the complaint said.

The leaflets thrown out were handwritten in English with many misspellings and addressed to "all people who love freedom and justice."

"In a shinning and civilized 21st century, most people in the world enjoying peace and freedom. North Korea however is groaning under the weight of starvation and dictatorial suppression. They don't have even the most basic of human rights since all things body and spirit plants and plows belong to one named greatest general Kim Jong Il," the leaflets said.

They were signed: "A citizen of UN, Steve Kim, Oct. 2, 2002."

One of Kim's two sons, Michael, said he and his father had walked around the United Nations two weeks ago during a visit to New York.

"We were just taking a look at it as a monument, or like a tourist site," he said. He said he had no idea his father had strong feelings about North Korea.

"It's just shocking news. I've never heard of anything like that," Michael Kim told WLS-TV in Chicago.

North Korea has been in an economic crisis since the collapse of its main benefactor, the Soviet Union, almost 11 years ago. The peak of the crisis occurred in 1996-97 when, according to some experts, as many as 2 million people starved to death.


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