[FOUNTAIN]Cloaks and Daggers

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[FOUNTAIN]Cloaks and Daggers

Spying was once referred as the second oldest profession. This is not a joke. Take a look at Chapter 13 of the Book of Numbers in the Old Testament: "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them." The statement more or less makes Moses the first spy. From this we can confirm that spying is deeply rooted in our lives.

In the 20th century, espionage activities became the core of our national governance as science and technology developed. War also underwent drastic changes. Winston Churchill called World War II a "war of magic." Scientists played the role of wizards. Hiding in damp, shady underground bunkers, they successively reported movements of Hitler's army to the authority after deciphering codes of Nazi Germany. Even after the Cold War, espionage activities continued.

Yet an incident unparalleled throughout the history of intelligence activities happened on the Korean Peninsula. Chang Jun-ha once said that separation of the Korean Peninsula is the scandal of world history; Korea may be the most suitable place for such an extraordinary incident. The scandal of Mohammad Ali Kanso is the classic and the most dramatic incident of intelligence history. It is classic because espionage activities were done through a man in the era of electronic intelligence using satellites. It is also extremely dramatic because no one suspected him until he was arrested in 1996. For 12 years, he disguised himself as an Arab. The scandal about a North Korean spy who disguised himself as a foreigner with a mustache could make an interesting novel.

What is more important is that Mr. Kanso is the most scholarly spy. Owen Lattimore could be another figure comparable to Mr. Kanso. Mr. Lattimore was a famous scholar unjustly accused of espionage for the then Soviet Union. Recently, Mr. Kanso, or Chung Su-il, again became a topic of conversations. Two publishers will bring out two books by Mr. Chung. Since "The History of Exchanges Between Shilla and the Countries to the West of China," published 10 years ago through Dankook University press, was a fine work, we look forward reading his new books. Mr. Chung, who has converted, was pardoned on the National Liberation Day last year. But reinstatement of his citizenship is yet to be finalized and he is in a uneasy state of mind. Can our society warmly embrace the victim of the era of national division, who is now in his 70s? His scholarly works will become the treasure of our society.

The writer is an editor of the JoongAng Ilbo publications.

by Cho Woo-suk

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