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[Editorial] Troubled Investigation Drive on Espionage

Posted October. 31, 2006 03:00,   


Kim Seung-gyu, director of the National Intelligence Service, in a press interview about the service’s investigation on espionage operations, said, “The reality of our society is shocking.” He meant that what has been revealed is only the tip of the iceberg. The fact that the person who is in the position to know best about the realities of the South and the North used the expression of “shocking” cannot be taken lightly. At the center of the whole incident is Ilsimhoe, a secret pro-North Korea organization, and what the investigators who read its report sent to the North said should be taken seriously.

However, voices for the suspension of the investigation are in the political sector, and rumors of conflicts persist within the NIS. Concerns may well spread whether the NIS will stick to its stance of investigation to clamp down on espionage. There are worries even within the intelligence service that its investigation drive might lose steam. The NIS said, “Some speculating reports are causing trouble to the investigation,” adding that development in the service’s investigation will not be disclosed to the media. It is not clear whether the remark is the intention of Director Kim.

Troubles experienced by investigating agencies and doubts regarding the director’s intention of resignation warn of bumpy roads ahead. If the service’s contradictory relations with Cheong Wa Dae and other politicians turn out to be true, interference in the investigation will strengthen. This is predictable since Jusapa, or pro-North Korean organizations, and the like-minded who participated in student demonstrations in the 1980s have taken up important positions in the National Assembly, civic organizations, and the educational sector since the inauguration of the Roh Moo-hyun administration. Their ideological and emotional bonds and unity have been expressed in various ways.

In contrast, the security awareness of Korean society is looser than ever. Kim said, “The public security’s mindset is slack. If the North thinks that South Korean society is on the brink of collapse, will it back down first?”

It seems not possible that President Roh will discourage Kim from resign. Therefore, who will succeed Kim is the issue. A successor should be the one who is determined to investigating the case thoroughly.

If a new NIS director tries to cover up the espionage case, he is throwing South Korean security into the hands of the pro-Kim Jong Il bodies. It is significant that Kim stated that choosing the next director within the NIS is not desirable to keep the political neutral position in next year’s presidential election. A new DIS director designate may reflect the intention of President Roh.

“Cracking down on spies and strengthening national security is what the public wants. All NIS personnel are determined to dig down to the truth,” said Kim. He added that the employees are investigating the case with patriotism, which should be expected of them, but has become the words that give sense of security to the public.

The NIS is officially a presidential agency, but it is the Korean people’s body that is in charge of national security. With patriotism, we should defend free democracy. Koreans have faith in the NIS. The prosecution should do its part and push for a transparent investigation to clarify everything about the case.