The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs allegedly obtained copies of the Chinese government papers documenting a criminal suspect’s exit to and entry from North Korea. But the Seoul-based Chinese Embassy was quoted as saying that the copies, submitted to the court, were forgeries. Now the question is who doctored the immigration documents.
Involved in the case is Yoo Woo-sung, a North Korean refugee of Chinese descent, who had worked as an official of the Seoul metropolitan government until he was arrested on charges of espionage. Yoo, 34, who entered North Korea on May 23 to attend his mother’s funeral, was charged with being recruited as a North Korean spy when he visited the North again in the same month.
The prosecution submitted the copies of the immigration papers to the appeals court as part of evidence of his espionage activities in South Korea. His counsel refuted the prosecution’s charges, presenting what it called copies of the authentic documents showing Yoo visiting the North from May 23-27, instead of making a another visit and remaining in the North until June, as claimed by the prosecution. The counsel said the embassy confirmed its copies were authentic.
In his testimony before the Legislation-Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly, Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said the prosecution confirmed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the copies had been made by the public security bureau in Helong, China. Opposition members of the committee demanded a criminal investigation into the case.
The claim that materials submitted to the court as evidence were fabricated must be dealt with seriously, regardless of the outcome of the proceedings in the appeals court. Moreover, it may create a diplomatic conflict between Korea and China, with the Chinese Embassy in Seoul reportedly saying that the Chinese government will launch an investigation into the crime of forging its official documents.
The prosecution will have to put an end to the forgery controversy as soon as possible, speeding up its investigation into the claim. It is a matter of course that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Intelligence Service, which investigated the espionage case, will have to cooperate with the prosecution to determine whether or not the evidence was doctored and who was responsible if they were. Ties with China and trust in the prosecution may be undermined if the forgery case is not solved soon.