Witness names Lee as RO’s leader

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Witness names Lee as RO’s leader

A key witness to the alleged plot by Representative Lee Seok-ki to stage an anti-state rebellion attended a hearing yesterday at the Suwon District Court, pinpointing the Unified Progressive Party lawmaker as the leader of the campaign.

The witness, also surnamed Lee, claimed he was a former member of the Revolutionary Organization (RO), a secret group allegedly spearheaded by Lee. The witness appeared at the court, escorted by two security guards who covered his head with two umbrellas to protect his identity from the seven defendants. During proceedings, a screen was placed between the witness and the defendants.

He told the court that he joined the RO in late 2003 and studied the North Korea’s Juche ideology of self-reliance, the primary doctrine of the underground ring. He also assumed a series of important posts in the organization, he said.

According to prosecutors, in May 2010, the witness posted a report on a National Intelligence Service’s website acknowledging that he was a member of the RO and that the group’s members had participated in several anti-state activities.

“I have lived as a democracy activist for 20 years,” he said in the report, “but now I want to live a new life.”

Since his report to the NIS, the witness has provided several confidential RO documents to the top spy agency, including those pertaining to the May 12 meeting in Mapo District’s Hapjeong-dong, where Lee allegedly detailed his plans for a rebellion. The evidence the witness submitted to the court includes 47 audio files that apparently contain secret recordings of RO meetings, including the meeting in May.

However, despite the fact that the witness claimed he had been a member of the RO since 2003, he said he never met with Lee, who was allegedly the leader of the group until May this year.

“At a meeting in May, we studied North Korea’s Juche ideology and discussed who our leader is,” he said. “They [the RO members] told me that there was only one leader - [North Korean founder] Kim Il Sung - and that Lee Seok-ki is the representative of South Korea.”

To become a member of the RO, an applicant must be recommended by more than two current members, he continued.

The witness also claimed that the RO was involved in the Democratic Labor Party’s nomination for its candidates in local general elections. The DLP, a minor opposition party, is the predecessor of the Unified Progressive Party, which Lee belongs to.

“Ahead of the 2010 general elections, the RO picked the DLP candidate for a city councilor seat in Suwon,” he said.

Two DLP candidates picked by the RO won seats at the time, he added.

The witness said he ran in a legislative election in 2008 as a DLP candidate representing Suwon, but lost the race. The witness said he ultimately became disillusioned with the RO because he felt the reclusive group tried too hard to control his personal life and perpetually confirm his identity.

BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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