[EDITORIALS]Why we need the security lawA North Korean agent who disguised himself as a defector has been active here for years. The spy has passed military secrets, such as information on the Defense Security Command, to the North in past years, traveling through China and North Korea, until he surrendered to the South Korean authorities in June. Our society has seen another weak point in our security system at a time when we are concerned with the repeal of the Natinal Security Law.
The most serious problem is the government’s attempt to cover up the problem. It has hushed up the case for several months, even after being informed of the spy’s surrender. After the JoongAng Ilbo’s exclusive report on the agent was verified, Chung Dong-young, the unification minister, said, “Among North Korean defectors there were a few who had been to the North secretly. Some of them were punished, but there are cases still under investigation.” He focused only on unauthorized trips to the North. But this incident is not the case of an unauthorized visit to meet family members left behind, but that of an agent who had been engaged in espionage for the North under orders of North Korean authorities. The truth had to be told to the people. When the government tries to cover up the truth like this, people blame it for trying “not to give a bad effect on the security law repeal,” or “to promote a South-North summit meeting.” The government must tell the truth in detail.
Taking this occasion, our North Korean defector policy must be re-examined from its foundations. As North Korean defectors arriving here continue to increase rapidly, it is getting difficult to deal with them. On top of that, it has been revealed that the North has used them to disturb our society. It is urgent to take administration-wide counter measures, not just steps by the Unification Ministry. We have to strengthen the capability of government agencies that deal with anti-communist activities. Their morale hit the bottom during the Kim Dae-jung administration. But a sentiment of keeping our distance from North Korean defectors should not be created.
Our worries about the security law’s repeal are shown to be true, but the government party insists that espionage can be punished by other laws. Lawyers do not agree. If our society is quarreling over penalties for spying, what of national security? The repeal of the National Security Law is premature.