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Conservative heavyweight joins call for NIS chief’s dismissal

The controversy surrounding the country’s spy chief took a twist Wednesday with a conservative heavyweight adding his voice to the call for his resignation.

On Wednesday, Saenuri Party Rep. Lee Jae-oh, a five-term lawmaker and a prominent member of the ruling party’s pro-Lee Myung-bak faction, called for National Intelligence Service chief Nam Jae-joon’s resignation through his Facebook account.

“The NIS chief must step down. Feeling responsibility is resigning,” Lee wrote, referring to Nam’s apology Tuesday. In his statement regarding the alleged evidence fabrication by NIS agents, Nam said he felt responsible and vowed to implement a sweeping reform of the agency.

“How could none of the 154 ruling party lawmakers say that the NIS chief stepping down is proper?” Lee said.

The ruling party, however, is siding with the president’s decision to keep Nam in office.

“(Nam) has issued a sincere apology, and he has made significant contributions thus far. (I think) that is why the president has made the decision (to keep Nam in office),” Saenuri Party chairman Rep. Hwang Woo-yea said.

He added that it was too early to launch a special counsel investigation demanded by the opposition.

The main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy is raising the pressure to launch a special counsel investigation and bring about Nam’s dismissal.

Claiming that President Park Geun-hye’s “pride and self-righteousness” was making the NIS untouchable, NPAD cochairman Rep. Kim Han-gil called for a special counsel investigation.

“If the president does not make the NIS chief accountable for the situation, the president will not be able to avoid the consequences,” Kim said at Wednesday’s general meeting of NPAD lawmakers.

“I once again call for the dismissal of the NIS chief, and a special counsel investigation to reveal the truth.”

Although Park issued a rare public apology on the issue on Tuesday, the opposition bloc was unsatisfied as the president simply warned of consequences should the NIS be involved in similar developments in the future.

By Choi He-suk (