Go to contents

Twenty-three Company Owners Wiretapped During Tax Audit of Press

Twenty-three Company Owners Wiretapped During Tax Audit of Press

Posted December. 15, 2005 08:59,   


It was verified from an investigation that, in 2001, during the National Tax Service’s examination of tax affairs of the press, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) extensively wiretapped the heads and executives of 23 major press companies. During Kim Young-sam’s administration, President Kim and his second eldest son Kim Hyun-chul, along with Lee Wong-jong, then chief presidential secretary, received information from the Agency for National Security Panel (ANSP) through the secret wiretapping done by the organization’s Mirim team and used it for their political agenda.

Seoul’s District Public Prosecutor’s Office wrapped up its 143-day long investigation of the wiretapping scandal, which began on July 25 of this year, and released the “ANSP and NIS Wiretapping Scandal Interim Investigation Findings,” which included such information.

The investigation began in 2001 when the Kim Dae-jung administration released a statement that members of NIS had confirmed that, at the time of the examination of press tax affairs, NIS wiretapped heads and principal executives of 23 major press companies. However, the prosecution disclosed that because the wiretapping targets had not been identified, Lim Dong-won and Shin Kun, former NIS chiefs, were not included in the managers’ charges.

During Kim Dae-jung’s administration, the more than 1,800 important people wiretapped by the NIS included government officials (55 percent), press (15 percent), business leaders (15 percent), high-ranking public officials (five percent), civic groups’ officials (five percent), and labor union executives (five percent).

According to investigation results, during the civilian government, the ANSP’s official report received by President Kim Young-sam included the Mirim Team’s wiretapping information.

It was confirmed that 646 victims in all were caught in the Mirim Team’s 274 wiretapped tapes confiscated by the prosecution. Two hundred seventy-three government officials, 84 high-ranking public officials, 75 press executives, 57 financial leaders, 27 legal officials, 26 academics, and 104 others were caught on tape.

The prosecution revealed that after the establishment of the NIS until right before the 1997 election, the Secret Service extensively wiretapped the telephone conversations of important people in various spheres.

At the time of the 1997 elections, Lee Kun-hee, Samsung Group chairman, Hong Suk-hyun, the previous Korean ambassador to the United States, and Lee Hak-su, Samsung Group’s head of restructuring office, were indicted for their part in the Samsung Group’s offer of an illegal contribution to the political party, but they were cleared of charges because there was no compensation for the offered money.

The prosecution has pressed non-restraint charges in violation of a law protecting secret communication against MBC reporter Lee Sang-ho who received and reported the wiretaps and Kim Yun-kwang who published the contents of the wiretap tape in Monthly Chosun.

Tae-Hoon Lee Jin-Kyun Kil jefflee@donga.com leon@donga.com