SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea's official website Monday threatened a top-ranking defector with death over his criticism of Pyongyang's regime during trips to the United States and Japan.
Hwang Jang-Yop "will not be safe anywhere", the Uriminzokkiri website warned in a commentary.
"You must not forget traitors have always been slaughtered with knives," it said.
The commentary described Hwang as a "traitor and human scum" and said he had "viciously slandered our dignity and system" during his trips.
Hwang, the architect of the regime's ideology of "juche", or self-reliance, was once secretary of the ruling Workers' Party and a tutor to current leader Kim Jong-Il.
He defected in 1997 during a visit to Beijing, becoming the highest-ranking official ever to flee the hardline communist state.
The 87-year-old now lives under guard at a secret address in South Korea to forestall any attempts by the North to assassinate him. He has received several death threats while in the South.
Hwang arrived in Tokyo Sunday after a closely-guarded trip to Washington where he met scholars and policymakers and called for "ideological warfare" against the regime.
In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Hwang stressed that informing the North Korean public about their harsh predicament should help bring changes in the famine-hit country.
In Japan he was to meet meet Hiroshi Nakai, the Japanese minister in charge of police as well as the abduction issue, Kyodo News said.
He was also expected to meet families of Japanese taken hostage by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s to teach the Japanese language and culture to Pyongyang spies, it said.