NIS launches revamped surveillance on North

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NIS launches revamped surveillance on North

The National Intelligence Service, the chief intelligence agency of South Korea, has launched a double surveillance system on North Korea’s power elites and troops, a government dignitary told the JoongAng Ilbo.

The NIS is also monitoring core targets of the communist regime, including the newly-built nuclear test site.

“The agency’s department of North Korean affairs has been reorganized, divided into two departments - early warning management and analysis on current affairs in the North,” a high-ranking South Korean government official said on Monday. “As is my understanding, there is also a new special team in charge of anticipating North Korea’s anti-South propaganda strategies and circumstances.

“By looking into the performances of the NIS for the past five years, we were led to an evaluation that the agency has some fruitful achievements in collecting intelligent sources regarding North Korea and spotting some strategic places for running spies, by enhancing its capabilities of ‘humint’ [human intelligence].”

Accordingly, the total number of sources collected by the NIS about Pyongyang has doubled under the Lee Myung-bak administration, compared with that of the previous administration.

“The most important information NIS needs is that on North Korea,” Yoon Sang-hyun, a lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party and a member of the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee, said. “We can say the NIS system has been improved, particularly in technology for gathering electronic information and imagery.”

“Still, we need an improvement for a better analysis of this information achieved by this new technology,” Yoon added.

Under the Lee administration, the NIS has arrested a total of 23 North Korean infiltrators and charged 169 South Koreans with praising or propagandizing the communist regime.

Separately, using a high-end lie detector and voice analysis device, the agency’s interrogators caught 132 North Korean spy agents disguised as defectors.

The numbers were significant, given the fact that the former administration led by liberal president Roh Moo-hyun arrested only 43 during his term.

“Since the arrest of a massive underground spy ring called Mount Wangjae, last year, the North Korea’s spy organizations, the ruling Workers’ Party’s bureau No. 225 and its politburo reportedly have been bashed, leading to a halt of all anti-South espionage activities,” the high-ranking official said.

The official said the NIS also played a key role in proving North Korea’s attack on the warship Cheonan.

“The agency obtained a catalog of North Korean torpedoes, published by the regime for the purpose of weapon exports, and proved that the ship was attacked by the North,” the official said.


By Lee Young-jong, Sohn Guk-hee [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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