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Spy chief-designate floats possibility of inter-Korean summit

President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday named a former veteran intelligence officer who worked on two inter-Korean summits as the chief of the country’s spy agency.

The nomination of Suh Hoon for the job at the National Intelligence Service is widely seen as a sign the incoming liberal administration will take a different approach to the communist North and seek to improve inter-Korean ties that have strained under the past two conservative presidents.

Suh Hoon (Yonhap)
Suh Hoon (Yonhap)

Moon’s appointment for the top post of the NIS requires parliamentary confirmation.

Suh, 64, had worked at the spy agency for more than 28 years until his retirement in 2008. He is currently a professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

During his service at the NIS, Suh was known as a North Korea expert, having played a key role in helping arrange summit talks between the two Koreas in 2000 and 2007.

“Arranging an inter-Korean summit is necessary to reduce military tensions in the Korean Peninsula and to start a talk for resolving the nuclear issue, although it is too early in the current stage to bring up the summit,” said Suh during a press conference held at Cheong Wa Dae.

“I think (President Moon) can go to Pyongyang if some conditions are met.”

Along with Suh, the president also announced his picks for the prime minister and chiefs of the presidential secretariat and presidential security service.

The country’s spy agency has previously been criticized for secretly meddling in domestic politics and manipulating public opinion, often for the political benefit of the incumbent president.

By Park Se-hwan (sh@heraldcorp.com)
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