Time for the nation to wake upIt is shocking that an underground spy ring - code-named Wangjaesan - has engaged in espionage for the past 18 years after receiving a directive from North Korean leader Kim Il Sung in a meeting in Pyongyang in August 1993.
Members of the group even received medals of honor from the North as a token of appreciation for their service. We are dumbfounded at the grim reality that a group of resident espionage agents, including an official who handled government secrets, could work as North Korean spies on a mission to foment a socialist revolution in the South for nearly two decades. Among them are people who were officially acknowledged as democratic movement leaders. The spy ring’s membership also includes a secretary of Assembly speaker Lim Chae-jung who served during the Roh Moo-hyun administration.
The prosecution arrested five members of the spy ring yesterday on charges of espionage, obtaining illicit infiltration and organizing and joining an antistate association.
The ringleader of the group, who was an avid follower of the North’s Juche (self-reliance) ideology, had reportedly pledged allegiance to the Workers’ Party and Kim Jong-il after vowing to struggle for revolution. He attracted several members to the spy ring after receiving a secret order from the Workers’ Party’s foreign liaison department in 2001. The agents collected data on our government’s political and military activities as well as the trends of dissident groups.
Wangjaesan attempted to infiltrate the political arena, with the Assembly speaker’s secretary playing a central role. The authorities in charge of public security regard the group’s activities as evidence that Pyongyang seeks to win over key figures to form its unification front in the upper echelon of our society. It feels similar to the German case - in which East Germany implanted over 30,000 resident agents in West Germany to curry favor with politicians, bureaucrats and college students.
The spy ring may be the tip of the iceberg. These days it is not easy to tell the difference between liberals and pro-North groups and between pro-North groups and followers of the North. The North followers who are disguised as liberals are shaking our values and order, as seen by the fact that Wangjaesan took the lead in staging candlelight rallies aimed at abolition of the National Security Law, as well as frequent demonstrations to tear down the statue of General MacArthur. In a divided land, spies are unavoidable. It’s time for the entire nation to wake up.