[Viewpoint]The enemies next doorGermany was defeated at the hands of a German in World War II. A secret telegram from Tokyo at the beginning of 1941 decided the fate of the war. The German army was appalled by the surging crowd of Russian soldiers. The Russian army was equipped with arms that worked in the winter, and its soldiers moved fast and were trained in extreme cold conditions. They came riding a new white T-34 tank that was superior to any German tank.
Richard Sorge was a Tokyo correspondent of the Frankfurter Zeitung. One day toward the end of 1940, he had dinner with Herbert von Dirksen, German ambassador to Japan.
At that time, Joseph Stalin was staking the fate of the Soviet Union on an intelligence report from Sorge, a native German Bolshevik. “What kind of decision has the Japanese government made on our fatherland (the Soviet Union) in connection with the German-Soviet war?” Stalin was looking for a way to withdraw elite Siberian troops from the Far Eastern front and deploy them on the western front.
Ambassador von Dirksen opened his heart to Sorge that night: “Damn it! Japan does not budge at all despite our request to attack the Soviet Union. It only clings to the war against the United States over the Pacific Ocean.” Sorge sent his last coded message to Moscow that night. “Japan has no intention of attacking the Soviet Union. The Maritime Provinces of the Soviet Union will be safe from any Japanese attack until the end of the winter.”
Stalin boldly started to withdraw troops from Siberia. Elite soldiers in white uniforms surged into Moscow and Stalingrad continuously by train.
Adolf Hitler’s stubborn insistence that “Stalingrad should be captured because it is Stalin’s city” ultimately broke down. The futile dream of the Third Reich was dashed because of a single spy telegram from Sorge.
There is no doubt human intelligence is decisive in the world of intelligence gathering. Intelligence agencies worldwide are busy pouring more than half of their budgets into getting more human intelligence.
Moreover, since the end of the Cold War, spy agencies around the world have been trying to prove the reasons for their existence in trade negotiations, on which vital national interests depend.
One example was the incident in which France expelled the director of the Paris branch of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency from the country.
The Paris branch director was caught when he tried to smuggle out secret French negotiation strategies at the Uruguay Round negotiations by winning an adviser of the French prime minister over to the U.S. side. He did not even hesitate to use such methods as bribery and wiretapping.
The French press at the time lost their temper and said, “France gets $4.25 billion worth of economic damage each year due to the secret activities of spies from neighboring countries.”
The recent leak of documents on the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement negotiations was a shocking event.
We can find no words to say about the sarcastic remark of the head of the U.S. negotiation team, who said, “We read Korean newspapers carefully.” Instead of wondering about who stole the information and why he spread it, now is the time to think about why such things repeatedly occur.
Not so long ago, a document on free trade negotiation strategies in the broadcast market field was leaked from the Korean Broadcasting Commission.
And an administrative staff at the Blue House who was working in the room right next to the president leaked a whole set of secret documents on the strategic flexibility of the National Security Council.
We are also accustomed to scenes in which legislators from both the governing and opposition parties wave top secret documents at the parliament as if they were showing off.
Under such circumstances, will the National Intelligence Service Law, which expands the range of secrets to trade, science and technology, really solve the problem?
Suddenly, South Korea has become a country where pro-independence and pro-alliance groups stand tall against each other, and pro-free trade and anti-free trade groups confront each other in public.
In a way, it can be said that it is a better world now because the ideological spectrum has diversified. However, if we think in a reverse way, it is an appalling world where your own interests can be violated by someone right next to you.
I hope the recent document leak was not the action of a person driven by ideological convictions.
If someone against the free trade negotiations leaked the documents to outside of the National Assembly, as is speculated by the government officials, he could be a Korean version of Sorge.
Following ideologies or faith blindly can certainly make a person blindfolded. Our most fearful enemies are right next to us, and inside us.
*The writer is the business news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Lee Chul-ho