Intelligence investigationThe prosecution announced yesterday an internal investigation into the leak of a transcript of a conversation between Kim Man-bok, chief of the South Korean National Intelligence Service, and Pyongyang spy boss Kim Yang-gon.
Although prosecutors used the term, “internal investigation,” in reality, it means an intensive investigation has started. It has been 35 days since Kim visited North Korea, 17 days since his visit was made public and seven days since he admitted that he leaked the transcript to a reporter and said he would resign from his post.
The start of the investigation seems a bit late, but we think it could have been worse. So far, speculation on the visit has created great public confusion. Questions were raised over the service’s political neutrality and national prestige was squandered in the midst of political disputes.
The prosecution’s investigation should not be limited to judging if the official document Kim leaked was actually classified. An investigation to provide an excuse for Kim’s act or an investigation to acquit him is even more inappropriate.
The investigation should look into the reason the chief of Korea’s highest intelligence service visited the North at a sensitive time, a day before the presidential election. Prosecutors should also find out if Kim went to the North only to attend the ceremony to unveil the sign at a pine tree that President Roh Moo-hyun had watered, and if there were any other topics that Kim discussed with Pyongyang’s spy boss.
The investigation needs to verify suspicion raised by the former chief of the National Intelligence Service that the service was not active during its probe into a group of South Koreans, called “Ilsimhoe,” who allegedly collected classified information from South Korea for North Korea. Whether or not an official at the National Intelligence Service was involved in Kim Kyung-jun’s entry to the country should also be determined.
There is no question that the prosecution should investigate a subject it could file an indictment against. However, we believe that it is the prosecution’s duty to find out the truth about public suspicions and tell the people the truth.
The prosecution allegedly launched its investigation into Kim based on the possibility that Kim violated his duty as a public official. It is not easy to question the chief of the National Intelligence Service since there are many restrictions, including laws that guarantee a government official’s position.