This, revealed Mr Thae, was the aim of the million pound bounty.
His pressure to act was increased when a senior General in North Korea’s military informed him that failure to succeed would not only put pay to Thae’s trajectory as one of the regime’s rising stars, but end his diplomatic career altogether.
His orders went further, with PRK intelligence chiefs asking him to try to “turn” the British mole in order to get them to defect – which would have been a major coup for the totalitarian state.
Instead, it was Mr Thae who defected.
The diplomat said that he informed Pyonyang that the odds of enticing any British civil servant of Royal Navy submariner was so remote as to be “impossible”.
He wrestled with the order for six months, even debating as to whether he should take the bounty and falsify information – not for the money, but to appease the regime.
That solution would derail, however, when he failed to produce the individual or have them defect.