[FOUNTAIN]Spy vs. spy catchers

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[FOUNTAIN]Spy vs. spy catchers

One summer, a fisherman in Aomori, Japan picked up a black plastic bag from the shore. Inside was 300,000 yen, a suit, an ID card and some other things. The police later arrested Lee Yong, a Korean student studying in Japan. The Asahi Shimbun reported this under the headline, “Waseda Graduate Student a North Korean Agent,” stating, “Police arrested Mr. Lee for violating the Alien Registration Act.” It read that Mr. Lee had disappeared a month earlier, having said he would be writing his thesis. When the plastic bag was discovered, he was staying at a hospital and claimed he had drowned in the sea. The newspaper said police suspected Mr. Lee had secretly gone to North Korea to receive spy training, then sneaked back into Japan, thus violating immigration control laws. “Since it was a case related to public peace, the police did not reveal more details,” the article read. Mr. Lee was exiled from Japan.
This same Lee Yong showed himself in Seoul for the first time after 37 years. He was invited to the Liberation Day Festival this year. The Hankyoreh Sinmun reported his story on its front page, describing him as a “person who worked at the frontline of democratization and unification.” It reported that Mr. Lee was exiled to Sweden after he criticized the military coup d’etat in May, 1961. He admitted, “When viewed under the the South’s National Security Law, I can be seen as a spy.” He argued, however, “It was all for the independence, reconciliation and unification of the country. It is a pity the country is still halved.”
It is a strange world where a North Korean spy can suddenly become an activist for unification and democracy. It would be understandable if Mr. Lee had admitted to being a spy because of torture by the central intelligence agency. However, he was indeed a spy from the North, as the Japanese police revealed and the Asahi Shimbun reported. Mr. Lee is being treated as someone who worked for the unification of our country without any evidence.
The expense for inviting him to Korea was met by the North-South Cooperation Fund ― all from citizen’s taxes. Dong-a Ilbo’s publishing department has said it might publish Mr. Lee’s autobiography.
Coincidentally, the same day the Hankyoreh Sinmun interviewed Mr. Lee, it also reported that former executives of the National Intelligence Service were being investigated for illegal wiretapping.
A spy from North Korea roams around the country freely while the agents who are supposed to catch spies are all in handcuffs. Has the world become a better place or is there something wrong with this country?

by Lee Chul-ho

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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