The prosecution, investigating the forced repatriation of North Korean fishermen to North Korea, is speeding up its probe by summoning Suh Hoon, former head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS).
On Monday morning, the Public Investigation Division 3 of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office allegedly summoned former director Seo to question why the joint probe on North Korean fishermen who expressed their intention to defect was terminated early and why the expressions, such as “expressed intention to defect and suggested a forced investigation,” were removed and replaced by “no suspicion of anti-communism” on the joint investigation report which was later sent to the Ministry of Unification.
In July this year, the former director was accused by the NIS of prematurely concluding a joint investigation in November 2019 in the process of forcibly repatriating two North Korean fishermen against their will to defect in November 2019. The fishermen were believed to have killed 16 colleagues. Prosecutors believe that forcible repatriation to North Korea is illegal if the two North Koreans did not express their will to return to their country.
Meanwhile, former director Seo has the stance that “repatriation to the North is a natural decision for the safety of our people.” “We decided not to accept those who massacred 16 people and fled with an aim to maintain the social order for our people,” said Seo and former Chief of Staff Noh Young-min at a press conference of the National Assembly in October 2022.
Earlier, the prosecution summoned and investigated Kim Yoo-geun, former first deputy director of the Blue House National Security Office (NFO), Kim Joon-hwan, former third deputy director at the NIS, Kim Yeon-cheol, former Unification Minister, and Noh Young-min. It will reportedly soon summon and question Chung Eui-yong, former director of the Blue House NSO.
Former director Seo applied for bail to the court on Friday after being arrested and indicted on charges of concealing and fabricating the murder of a public official in the West Sea in September 2020, when he was the head of the NSO at the Blue House.