NIS forms committee to prevent own meddling

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NIS forms committee to prevent own meddling

South Korea’s main intelligence agency launched an internal reform committee on Monday to prevent itself from meddling in domestic politics and to investigate its past activities.

The launch of the reform committee by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) is in line with a campaign promise by President Moon Jae-in to reform the spy agency to ensure it does not interfere in domestic politics, which it was accused of doing during the 2012 presidential campaign by posting online comments in favor of Moon’s rival and predecessor, Park Geun-hye.

“The launch of the reform committee marks a historic new beginning of the NIS,” said NIS chief Suh Hoon, who recently took helm of the agency under the new Moon government, during a launch ceremony on Monday.

Touching on the depth of reform he intends to undertake, Suh said the NIS must take the pains to become a better agency. “Please put forth a new direction for the NIS to take thinking this is our last chance to insulate the agency from domestic politics.”

The special reform committee will be led by Jung Hae-gu, professor of social science at Sungkonghoe University.

It will have a civilian panel comprised of eight members and another panel comprised of five former and current NIS agents.

Speaking next to Suh, Jung promised intense reform measures for the NIS, saying it should meet the demands of the time.

“Through such reform, the NIS must renew itself,” said the committee chief.

Two task force teams will be set up under the committee. One task force will deal with investigating the NIS’s past meddling in domestic politics, mainly its mobilization of agents to post online comments to help then-ruling party candidate Park win the election.

To help the investigation, prosecutors will be assigned to a team to look into how a confidential manuscript of a dialogue between former President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during a 2007 summit meeting in Pyongyang was leaked to the then-ruling Saenuri Party during the 2012 campaign season.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]

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