Tension mounts as South Korea launches largest anti-spying operation in 30 years

NIS South KoreaTENSION IS MOUNTING BETWEEN the government and opposition forces in South Korea, as the conservative administration of President Yoon Suk Yeol appears to be behind an effort to probe alleged links between senior liberal political figures and North Korean intelligence. The effort, which some commentators suggest could be the largest counter-espionage operation in the country’s history since 1992, is being led by the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

The operation came to light on January 18, when hundreds of police officers, led by NIS officers, conducted search raids at a number of regional offices of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). Founded in the mid-1990s, the KCTU is South Korea’s second-largest labor coalition, representing over 1.1 million members. It is politically aligned with the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), a left-of-center liberal coalition which was in government until last year. Since its establishment in 2014, the DPK has been engaged in a bitter political rivalry with the People Power Party (PPP), a conservative coalition that currently governs South Korea.

According to reports, the NIS is investigating charges that members of the KCTU formed “a clandestine organization” that engaged in protests against the United States and organized “various subversive campaigns under instructions from North Korea”. According to the NIS, the clandestine organization was led by a senior KCTU official, who was handled by clandestine operatives of North Korea’s ruling political party, the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK). The NIS claims that the official met repeatedly with WPK operatives during trips to countries like Vietnam and Cambodia, between 2016 and last year.

On January 18, a large police force appeared to be trying to enter the KCTU headquarters in Seoul, in an attempt to arrest the trade union official, who has not been named. Video footage appeared on South Korean social media, which appeared to show a standoff between law enforcement and KCTU officials. The latter attempted to be trying to prevent the police and NIS representatives from entering the building. Eventually, the authorities were able to enter the building, while also attempting to prevent some individuals barricaded inside from leaving. Read more of this post

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. Read more of this post

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