Spy chief Nam Jae-joon is coming under mounting pressure to step down as the prosecution’s investigation into the National Intelligence Service’s alleged evidence forgery expands.
On Wednesday, the prosecutors arrested an NIS collaborator who allegedly provided the forged evidence, and questioned Yoo Woo-seong, who is accused of spying for North Korea. Although Yoo, a former Seoul City official of Chinese-North Korean descent, was initially acquitted, the prosecution appealed using Chinese immigration documents that were later claimed to be forgeries.
|Yoo Woo-seong accused of spying for North Korea. (Yonhap)|
The NIS collaborator, identified as Kim, was taken into custody after being discharged from a hospital where he was recovering from a suicide attempt.
In addition, a former Chinese civil servant identified by the surname Lim was summoned for questioning. Lim is reported to have worked at an immigration office near the China-North Korea border and signed a statement saying that Chinese immigration documents cannot be forged earlier in the investigation.
While the Saenuri Party’s official position is to wait until the investigation ends, the view that Nam should take responsibility for the developments is spreading.
“If the NIS knew that the evidence was forged, then it ignored or hid the fact, and if it was unaware then (the NIS) can only be described as being incompetent,” Saenuri Party supreme council member Rep. Shim Jae-chul said.
“For a thorough reform of the NIS, it appears Nam will have to take responsibility.”
The ruling party’s Rep. Lee Jae-oh, who has been the most vocal on the issue, intensified his earlier calls for Nam’s resignation accusing him of “seriously damaging democratic values.”
The differences between Saenuri Party lawmakers’ views are also creating discontent toward the party leadership.
“Calling on the opposition to stop its political attacks and (wait to see how the investigation) pans out is nothing more than protecting those who forged evidence,” Lee said.
“Protecting the NIS each time it creates problems is failing to perform the duties of the ruling party. It is the same as giving up being the ruling party.”
As some Saenuri Party lawmakers deviated from the party’s official stance, the main opposition Democratic Party continued its attack.
“To use President Park Geun-hye’s expression, the NIS is becoming a ‘malignant tumor in the nation,’ and an ‘evil that should be smashed,’” DP chairman Rep. Kim Han-gil said at Wednesday’s supreme council meeting.
At Monday’s senior presidential staff meeting, Park called for regulatory reform, comparing regulations to a tumor and an enemy that needs to be smashed.
DP floor leader Rep. Jun Byung-hun also called for a “special response” from the president regarding the NIS, saying that Park was responsible for “the endless fall of the NIS.”
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com