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The key to ending misfortunes of natioanl spy agency

Posted November. 05, 2018 07:44,   

Updated November. 05, 2018 07:44


Budget is supposed to be allocated to the right place for the right purpose in terms of intelligence agency operation where secrecy matters most for the success of its missions. A scandal was prosecuted back in February regarding the appropriated budget for intelligence operations against North Korea. The ongoing incident, currently in trial, has brought the public into a state of shock. A former National Intelligence Service official, in charge of North Korea intelligence operations, prepared a suite room at one of the high-class hotels in Seoul with money, which was allocated for North Korea intelligence operations. It has been turned out that the chief of the state spy agency had used the room for personal use. Allegedly, internal guidelines have been tweaked to allow usage statements not to be reported to the Planning & Coordination Department at the national intelligence arm. Earmarked originally to gather intelligence on North Korea’s nuclear-related issues and North Korean leaders, the portion of budget has been misused and wasted meaninglessly.

As part of efforts to mend the issue, a revision bill regarding the National Intelligence Service was introduced to the National Assembly in January. Eighty-five lawmakers of the ruling Minjoo Party of Korea motioned the bill, which includes a clause that mandates reports on expenditures of North Korea intelligence operations to the National Assembly Intelligence Committee. According to the revision bill, even separate execution statements on confidential budget approved by the director are subject to report to the committee in question in the event that two-thirds of the committee members may request the submittal. Just as the U.S. Congress does, the legislative body of Korea will also have control of budget and activities of the intelligence agency. This measure can prevent the intelligence agency from misusing authority while ensuring consistency in intelligence gathering activities regardless of transfer of political power.

The key to deliberating this revision lies in the hand of chairman of the parliament intelligence committee, who belongs to the opposition. The National Intelligence Service would inevitably be reined in so tightly. However, the revision legislation has not been brought in to the intelligence committee for the past 10 months. The opposition parties are cautious about the weakening of anti-communist investigative functions. However, ironically, they pay little attention to the relevant bill. To put an end to the repetitive misfortunes of Korea’s intelligence body, the National Assembly should get a greater grasp of its activities.

Won-Soo Jung needjung@donga.com