Real evidence rejected in spy case

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Real evidence rejected in spy case

The National Intelligence Service initially provided factual evidence to the prosecution in an appeals case against a Korean-Chinese man suspected of espionage; however, the prosecution apparently refused it and demanded additional immigration records, which resulted in an unprecedented fabrication scandal, sources told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

In September, as requested by the prosecution, the country’s top spy agency obtained the official immigration records of Yu Wu-seong, a Korean-Chinese man living in Seoul who is suspected of spying for Pyongyang.

At the time, the prosecutors argued that Yu, who worked as a civil servant in South Korea, leaked the personal information of 200 defectors living in the South to the regime. They further claimed that Yu visited North Korea twice in 2006 via China, between May 23 and May 27, and May 27 and June 10. Yu admitted to taking the first trip, saying he attended his mother’s funeral, but denied the second.

The entry and exit record for Yu that the NIS initially obtained was a printed page from the Chinese immigration office’s official website. The agents were apparently able to open and print Yu’s immigration record from the site to prove his first trip between China and North Korean in 2006, though the document was without an official seal from the Chinese government or other relevant organizations.

According to the sources, the NIS printed the page after one of its officials was granted permission from a Chinese government official to access it.

The printed page contained the same information as the evidence submitted by Yu’s attorneys and was confirmed by the Chinese Embassy to be a legitimate record of Yu’s first visit to North Korea. When the prosecutors allegedly received the printed document from the spy agency, they knew it was a factual record, sources said.

But the prosecution told the spy agency that it could not use the page, citing that the document did not have an official seal and therefore could not be submitted to the court.

The fabrication controversy surrounds documents that were provided by the NIS and submitted to the court by the prosecution afterward, which were later confirmed by the Chinese Embassy in Seoul to be false: the entry and exit records for Yu between China and North Korea in 2006 and two letters confirming those records from the Helong police station in China and the Sanhe immigration office.

On Saturday, the prosecution arrested an NIS agent allegedly involved in the fabrication of those papers. The agent, only identified as Kim, worked in China to collect intelligence regarding North Korean affairs. An outsourced broker, who was questioned in the case last week, said he referred to the man simply as “Boss Kim.”

“Kim and other outsourced brokers obtained the original record first through the Chinese government official, but the prosecution [in the appeals case] said the document would be unable to be used in court,” said an official in the prosecution investigating the fabrication. “So the NIS could have fabricated the other documents based on this printed page.”

On Saturday, the Seoul Central District Court issued a temporary arrest and detention warrant for Kim, who they suspect directed the fabrication of the additionally submitted documents obtained by outsourced brokers.

At the hearing on Tuesday, Kim denied the allegations against him and claimed he never knew the documents were falsified. However, one of the brokers, who obtained the confirmation letter from Sanhe immigration office, claimed at the hearing that Kim was already aware that the document he had provided was fake and that the agent had directed his actions.

BY JUNG HYO-SIK, KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]


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