Korea spy gave North data on 10,000 defectors living in South
January 22, 2013 1 Comment
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
An employee of the South Korean government has been detained for allegedly providing North Korea with detailed resettlement information on over 10,000 North Korean defectors living in the South. The 33-year-old man, who has been identified simply as “Mr. Yu”, was arrested on January 11 by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service. The NIS, which leads South Korea’s intelligence community, described Yu’s activities as “an unusual breach of the South Korean civil service”. The detainee is accused of providing Pyongyang with a “complete list” of thousands of North Korean defectors living in South Korean capital Seoul. The list is said to include information such as the defectors’ resettlement addresses and employment information among other personal data. Interestingly, the accused spy is himself a North Korean defector, according to South Korean news outlets. A trained surgeon, he is said to have been a member of North Korea’s social elite before defecting to the South on foot via China, in 2004. Seven years later, in 2011, he joined the Seoul city municipal government, where he was tasked with providing assistance and services to the thousands of North Korean defectors living in the South Korean capital and surrounding areas. According to reports, Yu was arrested after the NIS discovered that he made frequent trips to China and came to suspect that he might have crossed into North Korea on several occasions during his trips. South Korean counterintelligence investigators are currently trying to determine whether the accused spy entered South Korea with the intention of conducting espionage on behalf of Pyongyang. Alternatively, South Korean officials say that the man’s family, who still live in the North, might have been used “as hostages” to force him to commit espionage against the South. North-South relations —such as they are— have been significantly damaged by a series of sensational spy scandals in recent years. In October of 2011, South Korean authorities charged a North Korean defector accused of trying to kill an outspoken anti-Pyongyang activist living in the South, with the use of a poison-tipped needle. In August of that year, South Korea’s political establishment was rocked by an espionage scandal involving dozens of alleged members of a North Korean spy ring, in what was described at the time as the country’s largest espionage case in over a decade.