[EDITORIALS]A crime at the highest levelIt has been announced that Kim Hyung-wook, a former head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency who disappeared in 1979, was executed by the spy agency itself, in Paris. The agency’s present-day successor, the National Intelligence Service, announced that the KCIA’s then-director, Kim Jae-kyu, gave the order to kill him. A high-ranking Korean diplomat in France at the time, along with two KCIA operatives who were there for training, hired a killer from a third country, the intelligence service reported. The spy agency says it has failed to determine whether then-President Park Chung Hee directly intervened in the case, but it did not exclude the possibility of his involvement, direct or indirect.
Wild speculation about Mr. Kim’s disappearance has been rampant. The most recent story came from a man who claimed that he had killed him and disposed of the body in a chicken feed mill. Others have claimed that he was killed in the basement of the Blue House. A document was even released suggesting that he had been taken from France to another country and executed there. The intelligence service’s announcement has calmed things down.
It is said that the intelligence service reached its conclusion after going through 19,000 pages of trial records and 9,500 pages of other documents, and after interviewing 33 people, including former spy agency personnel. Ultimately, it was only a question of having the will to investigate. If the spy agency had wanted to, it could have verified the truth long ago, and back then, it might have been easier to find people connected to the case. Because of this lack of will to discover the truth, it has been buried for the past 26 years. In that sense, the National Intelligence Service should reflect on its negligence, at an institutional level.
This was a crime committed by the nation’s highest authorities. It is a tragedy that such an outrageous, brutal act was committed by a government agency. Such an incident cannot and should not be repeated. In this regard, we should always guard against absolute power. The truth ultimately comes out; the only question is how long it takes. Those in power should keep this in mind.
This is the reason why the clarification of historical wrongdoings should be kept independent of politics. We need to expose the truth out of a sense of historical responsibility, not for partisan purposes. If the truth is distorted for political gain, that, too, will ultimately be revealed.