The South Korean consul implicated in the spy agency’s alleged evidence forgery was summoned for questioning as opposition parties intensify calls for the spy chief’s dismissal.
On Thursday the prosecution summoned Lee In-chul, a consul at the South Korean mission in Shenyang, China, as a suspect in the case.
Lee is alleged to have been deeply involved in the NIS gaining forged Chinese immigration documents that supposedly substantiated former Seoul City official Yoo Woo-seong’s travels to North Korea.
The investigators are reportedly planning to file for a detention warrant for Lee on charges of forging official documents.
Yoo, a North Korean of Chinese descent who came to the South in 2004, is accused of handing over the personal information of some 200 Seoul City officials to Pyongyang.
Although the case against him was initially thrown out for a lack of evidence, the prosecution appealed using Chinese immigration documents. The new evidence, however, was later claimed to be forgeries.
Lee is only the latest to be questioned as the prosecution spurs on the investigation, which has become the center of an expanding political dispute.
On Wednesday, the prosecutors arrested an NIS collaborator who allegedly provided the forged evidence.
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.
As the case unfolds, the main opposition Democratic Party is intensifying its demands for the dismissal of NIS chief Nam Jae-joon.
“(I) warn that actions such as submitting a request for Nam’s dismissal will be unavoidable if an immediate and visible measure acceptable to the public is not forthcoming,” DP floor leader Rep. Jun Byung-hun said Thursday.
The call for Nam’s removal appears to be spreading even within the ruling Saenuri Party, even though its official stance is to wait until the investigation is over. Rep. Lee Jae-oh and other non-mainstream members of the party have been supporting the demands.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)