Anti-state activity on rise, NIS says

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Anti-state activity on rise, NIS says

The number of reports of suspicious activity against the South Korean government has noticeably increased this year, the country’s top spy agency claimed.

According to the National Intelligence Service (NIS), that trend is apparently influenced by the ongoing insurrection case against Unified Progressive Party lawmaker Lee Seok-ki, and the release of a list of members of the Uriminzokkiri, North Korea’s propaganda website.

The NIS said that in September, one citizen called the agency complaining that suspicious comments were being posted by an unknown user on their Twitter account.

The user posted several messages on the account praising North Korea and denouncing the administration of President Park Geun-hye.

When the Kaesong Industrial Complex shuttered in April, the user posted, “Let’s execute all of those anti-unification forces, [President] Park Geun-hye and [Unification Minister] Ryoo Kihl-jae, who both scrapped the Kaesong complex!”

Another post stated, “South Koreans are sons of [expletive]. Hooray for the DPRK,” and included a link to a South Korean news article about the massive cyberattack in June on government organizations.

After the citizen reported the abuse, the posts stopped, the NIS said.

Another report in early September concerned a Facebook user who was allegedly uploading pro-North Korea posts. The concerned party even sent along a photograph of a person they argued was responsible - as well as the man’s alleged home address.

The NIS said they have received a number of reports of this nature, recording 47,000 cases since January.

The count for this year is higher than in 2012, which only saw about 40,000 instances of suspicious activity. The NIS expects that the number of reports this year could reach 50,000 by December.

These accounts, the agency added, appear to increase depending on current events and the situation in North Korea.

After a group of hackers working under the umbrella group Anonymous released a list of about 9,000 user records from the Uriminzokkiri website, calls from concerned citizens flooded in, the NIS said.

Many of the calls they received were from members of Ilbe.com, a right-wing website popular among conservative young people.

Based on the information from Anonymous, callers gave the spy agency information about people they believed were contributing to the site.

Additionally, after news broke of Representative Lee Seok-ki’s alleged insurrection plot in late August, the number of reports to the NIS tripled, the spy agency claimed.

Since the sinking of the Cheonan naval ship and the deadly shelling on Yeonpyeong Island, the number of the reports of anti-state activity has increased steadily each year, from about 10,000 in 2010.

Under the Roh Moo-hyun administration, the number of these types of reports totaled 5,865 for his entire five-year term.

They increased under the Lee Myung-bak administration, reaching 86,332 during the course of his presidency.


BY MOON BYUNG-JOO, LEE YU-JEONG [heejin@joongang.co.kr ]

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