The prosecutors’ office could wrap up the probe into the spy agency’s alleged evidence fabrication as early as Thursday, and summon suspected spy Yoo Woo-seong in a separate case.
According to reports, the prosecutors’ office may wrap up the evidence forgery investigation on Friday or Saturday having indicted a National Intelligence Service agent and a Korean-Chinese collaborator.
The two suspects, both surnamed Kim, are accused of having played critical roles in obtaining the forged Chinese government documents supposedly proving that Yoo entered North Korea as late as 2006.
Yoo, a former Seoul City official of North Korean-Chinese descent accused of spying for Pyongyang, defected to the South in 2004. Although he was initially acquitted for lack of evidence, the prosecution appealed using documents provided by the NIS, which were later shown to be forgeries.
Although the investigation into the NIS appeared at first to be moving up the ladder from the NIS’ Kim, a midlevel official, the probe was stumped by the attempted suicide of another spy agency official named Kwon.
Kwon, a veteran NIS agent who was serving as the deputy consul general of South Korean diplomatic mission in Shenyang, China, attempted suicide after being questioned on three occasions. He is said to have sustained serious brain damage that may impair his memory.
Kwon, however, remains a key suspect, with the prosecution believing that he and NIS agent Kim orchestrated the events.
In addition, NIS official Lee In-chul and another higher-level agent identified by the surname Lee are said to be on the list of suspects the prosecution hopes to indict. Lee In-chul was initially pointed out as the NIS agent who first obtained the documents in question while he was working as a consul at the Shenyang mission.
As for Yoo, he is also under investigation on charges of fraud. On March 17, the Youth Forum of North Korea Democratization filed a complaint against Yoo, accusing him of using forged documents in his defense, and on March 20 the group accused him of hiding his Chinese nationality to receive government subsidies for North Korean defectors.
The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy opened fire on the prosecution again on Tuesday, accusing the organization of protecting its own and scaling down the investigation.
“The prosecution’s verification team is said to be planning an internal audit on the concerned prosecutors. And investigating higher up the NIS doesn’t even appear to be on the prosecution’s mind,” New Politics Alliance for Democracy spokesman Rep. Chyung Ho-joon said, referring to the prosecutors who submitted the alleged forged evidence against Yoo.
Saying that those responsible must be brought to justice, Chyung reiterated the long-standing demands of the opposition parties.
“For this, NIS chief Nam Jae-joon’s resignation and a special counsel investigation are absolutely necessary.”
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)