[Letters] Overhauling the intelligence network

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[Letters] Overhauling the intelligence network

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il probably fears in the face of the Jasmine Revolutions in the Middle East, as the Mubarak regime of Egypt has fallen and the Gaddafi regime of Libya is on the brink of collapse. In February and March it has become a tradition that North Korea issues harsh rhetoric ahead of the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercise.

But this month the North faces extraordinary conditions at home and abroad, including the Middle East crisis. Under such a situation there is a high possibility that the North is plotting something, taking into account the precedents of the Kim regime and his military.

There is no need for us to feel pressured about any rhetoric from the North. Yet, intelligence about North Korea is absolutely necessary to this end. Right decisions and preparations can only be made based on sure information.

But can we say South Korea’s intelligence authorities are doing their best to collect and analyze intelligence on the North? I am not sure if they are.

The intelligence community is formed by a state-run intelligence agency and intelligence departments of government offices. The main spy agency performs the roles of overseeing, adjusting and coordinating the activities of intelligence departments. The National Intelligence Service is performing the role, but I am afraid it has been shaken.

Although it was not officially confirmed, there is a possibility that the NIS is experiencing internal turmoil due to the alleged break-in into the hotel room of the visiting Indonesian delegation.

Under the circumstances, intelligence activities against the North won’t proceed properly. Although it may look normal on the surface, agents may not be able to focus on their tasks so circumstances surrounding the North are more critical than ever. Even if the intelligence communities perform their roles 100 percent how will we handle a national security crisis, if the NIS is shaken so badly?

The leadership of the NIS must counter North Korean intelligence activities properly at all costs, at all times. The intelligence network of all spy agencies must be checked and thorough preparations should be made to make sure no information will be overlooked.

*Letters and commentaries for publication should be addressed “Letters to the Editor.” E-mailed letters should be sent to eopinion@joongang.co.kr.

An Gwang-bok,
former head of the planning and coordination at the National Intelligence Service
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