Man indicted for disclosing state secrets to Pyongyang

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Man indicted for disclosing state secrets to Pyongyang

Prosecutors indicted a South Korean businessman yesterday for handing over classified military information, including a state-of-the-art image transmission device, in the hopes of receiving business favors from Pyongyang.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office announced yesterday that a 57-year-old businessman, whom authorities only identified by his surname, Kang, provided North Korean operatives with information about a wireless transmission device named Kaishot. The prosecutors indicted Kang with detention on charges of espionage in violation of the anti-Communist National Security Law.

Kaishot, developed by Korean company Idfone, is a lightweight wireless device that transmits real-time video images, audio and data, and can be mounted to a helmet. The equipment played a critical role in the Navy’s successful rescue mission in 2011 of sailors held captive by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden.

The device was also used by security agents during the 2010 Group of 20 Seoul Summit.

The prosecutors said Kang, who runs a real estate development firm that has a working relationship with the Communist state, first made contact with a North Korean operative during a business trip to Pyongyang in 1998.

The authorities suspect the businessman gave away classified information after he was promised business favors from Pyongyang in return.

Prosecutors said Kang met with a North Korean agent in 2012 at an unspecified location in China, where he was ordered to send one Kaishot device to the North, including documents relevant to the equipment.

Upon receiving the order, prosecutors claimed that Kang approached the head of the Kaishot development firm and requested specific documents - such as manuals that would explain how to set the frequency - which he later received.

In June 2012, Kang gave a flash drive containing this information - as well as a list of South Korean military and intelligence units using the device - to an operative from Pyongyang in Shenyang, China.

“Because information regarding Kaishot’s communications frequency range and its password systems .?.?. has been compromised [by Kang], there is a possibility that Pyongyang now has a full picture of how our military forms combat strategy using Kaishot,” a prosecutor involved in the case said.

Kang also allegedly gave detailed information to the North regarding the landscapes of certain border cities, which are heavily militarized due to their proximity to the North.

He is also suspected of leaking the profiles of 396 South Koreans separated from their families in the North during the 1950-1953 Korean War.

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