High-level spy-ring arrests send shockwaves in S. Korea

Lim Chae-jung

Lim Chae-jung

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
South Korean prosecutors have indicted or are questioning dozens of alleged members of a North Korean spy ring, in what is said to be the country’s largest espionage case in over a decade. Seoul’s political establishment has been rocked by the espionage scandal, which allegedly involves several trade unionists, academics, and at least ten members of the country’s opposition Democratic Party. According to security officials, the suspects were members of an underground organization called Wangjaesan, after Mount Wangjae which is a revered national monument in North Korea. The official indictment claims that Wangjaesan was handled by operatives of Office 225 of the North Korean Workers’ Party Korea, which is tasked with overseeing the activities of sleeper agents operating in South Korea. The organization was allegedly headed by a man identified only as ‘Kim’, who owned a South Korean electronics import-export company, and routinely traveled to China and Japan, where he purportedly met his North Korean handlers. Aside from ‘Kim’, South Korean counterintelligence investigators are reportedly questioning close to ten senior members of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, several academics, as well as at least a dozen opposition political figures. Among the latter are members of South Korea’s leftwing Democratic Labor Party, widely considered as the political wing for the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. More importantly, among Wangjaesan spy ring suspects are several members of South Korea’s main opposition Democratic Party, including a former aide to former National Assembly speaker Lim Chae-jung. The Democratic Party reacted to the arrests by saying that it had nothing to do with the Wangjaesan group. It also blasted the conservative government of President Lee Myung-bak and the Grand National Party, saying that the spy ring arrests are part of a wider plot to destabilize South Korean politics and weaken the liberal opposition ahead of the country’s national elections in 2012.

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