E-mails discuss sub infiltration

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E-mails discuss sub infiltration

Members of the so-called Revolutionary Organization, or RO, who are suspected of conspiring to overthrow the government, exchanged encrypted e-mails discussing how they should support a North Korean submarine penetration into South Korea, security sources said yesterday.

According to the sources, the National Intelligence Service seized e-mails exchanged from late last year to early this year between Hong Soon-seok, 49, vice chairman of the UPP’s Gyeonggi chapter; Han Dong-geun, 46, former Suwon chapter chairman; and Lee Sang-ho, 50, an adviser to the Gyeonggi Progressive Alliance; and other alleged members of the RO who were accused of conspiring to topple the Park Geun-hye government in conjunction with Pyongyang.

Last week, the NIS raided 18 homes and offices linked to 10 UPP members, including Representative Lee Seok-ki, and arrested party officials Hong, Han and Lee Sang-ho.

The NIS said it obtained evidence that the 51-year-old proportional representative and a group of hard-liners had conspired to commit an insurrection, including a plan for an armed uprising. Lee, who has two past convictions of anti-state activities, is immune from arrest as a legislator while the Assembly is in session. Lee denies the charges.

The security sources said the encrypted e-mails were not able to be opened without code-breaking. The NIS recently broke some of the codes and was able to see some details.

One of the decrypted e-mails, according to the sources, said, “We should find ways to support North Korean armed forces when they come south with fighters, submarines and tanks.” Another e-mail said, “Provide measures of support for North Korean submarines.”

The NIS has been investigating the case for more than two years after obtaining intelligence that some RO members made contacts with spies for Pyongyang overseas. With a warrant issued by a court, an investigation team of the NIS seized a dozen e-mail accounts registered with the country’s major Web portal sites under RO members’ names. They found they had been communicating with people using U.S. and Chinese e-mail services.

The NIS also found that e-mails sent from RO members were forwarded to other e-mail addresses, which the NIS couldn’t trace.

The NIS didn’t include these facts on warrants they sought against Hong, Han and Lee. But they highly suspect that RO members were sending intelligence from Seoul to Pyongyang’s spies overseas and also taking orders from them.

BY LEE DONG-HYUN [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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