[EDITORIALS]A Not So Bright Intelligence Service

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[EDITORIALS]A Not So Bright Intelligence Service

Suspicions about high-ranking officials at the National Intelligence Serivce are growing. Kim Hyung-yoon, former head of economic intelligence at the service has already been indicted and detained for taking 55 million won ($42,000) in the Chung Hyun-joon scandal. It is shocking that Kim Eun-seong, head of the service's domestic intelligence, is said to have been directly or indirectly involved in scandals involving Mr. Chung and Chin Seung-hyun.

While investigating Mr. Chung's case, the prosecution secured a statement from Lee Kyung-ja, vice chairwoman of Dongbang Mutual Savings and Finance, saying she gave 10 million won to Kim Eun-seong. We suspect that the prosecution favored Kim Eun-seong by doing nothing with that statement. Ms. Lee's statement is quite convincing because where and when the money was delivered to Kim Eun-seong and Kim Hyung-yoon is almost identical and quite specific.

The prosecution said that it could not indict Kim Eun-seong because it could not verify Ms. Lee's statement. It said that the company officials present when the money was delivered ran away and Kim Eun-seong denied taking the money. In addition, it was hard for the prosecution to prove that Kim Eun-seong received the money in return for a favor.

The prosecution's excuse is not very persuasive. The prosecution reluctantly and belatedly indicted and detained Kim Hyung-yoon only when the matter caught public attention after the prosecution had ignored Ms. Lee's statement for more than 10 months. We cannot buy the prosecution's excuse that the money was not in return for something. Why would a businessman give a high-ranking official 10 million won - for nothing? Common sense tells us that officials should quit if they are found receiving large amounts of money for any reasons.

Without exception, the prosecution has indicted low-level officials for receiving just a few million won. How can the people accept such ridiculous standards when the prosecution closes its eyes to a high-ranking official who took 10 million won, and no questions were asked?

It is also a mystery to us how the alleged lobbyist for Mr. Chin, Kim Jae-hwan, former chairman of MCI Korea, not to be confused with the U.S. telephone service provider, was reportedly beaten up by Kim Eun-seong. Mr. Kim allegedly had asked his subordinates to take Kim Jae-hwan to a hotel last February. Kim Eun-seong denied assaulting him. He said that he simply contacted Kim Jae-hwan in order to confirm whether Mr. Kim spread a rumor that the National Intelligence Service was involved in Mr. Chin's scandal, and to warn him. There are still many suspicious points that need clarifications.

In almost all politically sensitive scandals, high officials of the National Intelligence Service have appeared without exception as is seen in the Lee Yong-ho scandal in which Kim Hyung-yoon recommended Lee a treasure-hunter. It is also true that investigations into those officials has always failed to dig into the truth.

Something must be done with the National Intelligence Service. Suspicions about it have so far raised enough questions to show that the agency needs a major overhaul. First, the service should take one step forward to regain public trust by investigating all suspicions surrounding itself, including Kim Eun-seong's case, and holding the responsible individuals accountable. The service should also release its investigation results to be verified by the public, and the prosecution should restart investigation on them.
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