Speculation is growing about the Chinese woman who allegedly had inappropriate relationships with at least three former South Korean diplomats in Shanghai and used them to collect confidential government information.
Speculation is that Deng Xinming is most likely a broker, although it would be too premature to eliminate the possibility of her being a spy.
For years, Deng has made money by fixing business complications for Korean businessmen or introducing influential Chinese officials or politicians to them.
She had close personal ties with top city officials and spread rumors that she was the granddaughter of the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, according to Koreans living in Shanghai.
Deng helped President Lee Myung-bak’s brother Rep. Lee Sang-deuk of the ruling Grand National Party and Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon meet with the secretary of the Shanghai committee of the Chinese Communist Party and Shanghai mayor when they visited the city in 2008 and 2009, respectively, said Kim Jung-ki, former consul-general in Shanghai.
“She also helped us get through when a consular officer’s luggage caused problems in the Chinese customs,” Kim said.
Deng recently tried to expand her work scope to visa-related affairs by approaching a consular officer in charge of the job. The official identified by his initial H issued dual visas for her.
She met H through a car accident in Shanghai last May, according to the consulate in Shanghai.
Deng Xinming poses in this undated photo. (Yonhap News)
Deng may have planned for the encounter, considering that she was capable of getting other people’s telephone records and finding out the locations of CCTV cameras.
Deng seduced H and requested the consulate to designate her as a visa application agent, according to consulate officials. She also asked Kim for the favor but did not get the designation.
Brokering for visa affairs is believed to be a lucrative business as visa application agencies in Shanghai receive 300 yuan (about 50,000 won) per person and another 30,000 yuan in deposit money to prevent illegal stays by tourists.
About 100 institutions ― 50 tour agencies and 50 institutions affiliated to the Chinese government ― are designated as official visa application agencies in Shanghai.
New agencies are selected or existing ones are eliminated through regular examinations.
Eight South Korean diplomatic missions in China have issued visas to some 870,000 Chinese people last year.
Deng, however, failed to get the designation despite her requests made to Kim as well as H.
While many observers say Deng appears too sloppy to be a spy, the possibility that she may be connected to Chinese intelligence cannot be ruled out yet.
Materials that Deng kept included the contact list of consulate officials, visa records, documents on the Seoul government’s personnel affairs as well as the mobile phone numbers of Korean politicians.
She was married to a Korean man surnamed Jin for the past 10 years, but even the husband said he knew little about what kind of work she did.
Born in 1978, Deng said she got employed as a Shanghai city official about five years ago, according to Jin.
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com