NIS worker’s job was to monitor pro-North activity

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NIS worker’s job was to monitor pro-North activity

The actual duty of a spy agent who was accused of swaying voters against a former presidential candidate was to monitor pro-Pyongyang comments on South Korean Web sites, Seoul police told the JoongAng Ilbo.

The 29-year-old female worker of the National Intelligence Service, surnamed Kim, was accused of posting comments on the Internet critical of Moon Jae-in, the former presidential candidate for the main opposition Democratic United Party, in order to harm his reputation and help the ruling party rival Park Geun-hye win the race.

The DUP pressed charges against Kim for violating election laws. DUP members camped out in front of her apartment for two days last December and even tried to raid her house to confiscate her personal computer.

However, police told the JoongAng Ilbo on Sunday that her job was to search for pro-Pyongyang people in the South who were praising North Korea and spreading their rhetoric on the Internet.

Kim submitted some documents that proved her mission. The materials were about comments or posts uploaded on a pro-Pyongyang Web site, called O-Yu, short for “Oneurui Yumeo,” or “Today’s Humor” (todayhumor.co.kr), which was already on the NIS blacklist for antistate activities.

Police said Kim used 11 different user IDs to monitor the Web site and crack down on pro-North behavior. During her mission, she clicked “Recommend” or “Oppose” on about 90 posts in total between late August and mid-December in 2012.

“My job is mainly chasing those pro-North Korea comments,” Kim said, according to the police, at the recent questioning on Friday. “I viewed posts that were about trivial things, such as cooking or celebrity gossip.”

“During the election campaign, there were roughly 1,000 posts every day on the O-Yu Web site about Moon,” Gang Rae-hyeong, Kim’s attorney, told the JoongAng Ilbo. “And among them, Kim viewed only one of the 1,000 posts on average. We can’t say this is a violation of election law.”

“At the moment, we don’t have further plans to call Kim in for questioning,” a police official said. “We are planning to close the investigation sometime soon and announce the result.”

According to the material Kim submitted to the police, a number of posts were uploaded on the Web site praising the North Korean regime.

One of them was posted in February 2011, entitled “We advise President Lee Myung-bak to step down.” Kim traced the IP address and found that the person who posted it initially was running an online cafe with pro-North Korean propaganda content.

The cafe’s manager, surnamed Bang, has been already indicted for violating the National Security Law and imprisoned.

Some members of the Web site used different nicknames to promote a certain post and rank it on the “Best of the Best” bulletin board, which shows up on the main page of the Web site.

For example, a post with the title “North Korea’s economic strategy is military-first strategy,” uploaded on May 1, 2012, was once ranked as “Best of the Best.”

Investigators found that the post was highly promoted at around 4 a.m. on May 5, by pro-Pyongyang students attending local universities in the South. But they used IP addresses based in foreign countries, to avoid police detection.


By Moon Byung-joo, Yoon Ho-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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