[EDITORIALS]Agency that breeds suicideLee Soo-il, a former deputy head of the National Intelligence Service who had been investigated by prosecutors regarding the spy agency’s illegal wiretapping, has been found dead at his apartment.
The cause of death was suicide through suffocation. Mr. Lee earlier served at the Korean police agency and the Board of Audit and Inspection, and was the president of a university when he died.
His death is a tragedy that was triggered by the intelligence agency’s illegal eavesdropping. It has been said that Mr. Lee, during his interrogation, disclosed the truth about the agency’s wiretapping and attempts by Shin Kun, a former intelligence chief, to destroy evidence.
Shortly after they began questioning Mr. Lee, the prosecutors announced that they had a meaningful statement from him. Later, he reportedly called his former boss, Mr. Shin, to tell him that further denials would be like trying to cover the sky with a hand because so many people had already confessed the truth. Mr. Lee was also said to have called Mr. Shin just before the former intelligence chief was arrested to apologize for failing to serve Mr. Shin properly. One could only sense how much Mr. Lee suffered.
It is no news today that former intelligence officials who had enjoyed great power while in office then suffered greatly after their retirement. The problem is that such a fate was met not only by intelligence officials who served the government when the country was under military rule. Intelligence officials who served in more democratic times since the early 1990s have also been arrested for their involvement in illegal activities, including illegal funding for presidential races.
Such tragedies raise fundamental questions about whether the intelligence agency is really necessary. The biggest reason that so many former senior intelligence officials have suffered later is because they illegally used the intelligence agency to serve those in power. They conducted illegal wiretapping to provide those in power with information that would create interest.
And so the national intelligence agency has been debauched into a private institution for powerful people. In research by the JoongAng Ilbo, former and incumbent senior officials at the spy agency agreed that such has been the biggest problem.
To prevent such a tragedy from being repeated, a personnel system that would demand political neutrality should be established. Otherwise it will be difficult to root out the temptation to keep on wiretapping.