President Lee Myung-bak has decided to replace two of the three deputy chiefs of the National Intelligence Service two months after the nation’s main spy agency’s failed attempt to steal information from a visiting Indonesian delegation caused diplomatic humiliation.
Lee named Jeon Jae-man, diplomatic minister at the South Korean Embassy in Beijing, as the first deputy chief of the NIS, and Lee Jong-myung, a military officer at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the third deputy chief, the presidential office said Monday.
Jeon Jae-man (left) Lee Jong-myung (right)
Jeon, a career diplomat, will take charge of overseas and North Korean affairs while Lee Jong-myung, a military officer, will handle industrial intelligence and cyber security.
“The nominations are aimed at renewing the organizational climate of the NIS and enhancing its capabilities,” senior presidential aide for public relations Hong Sang-pyo said.
Legislators have called on President Lee to sack NIS director Won Sei-hoon to take responsibility for the diplomatic fallouts caused by the agency’s blunders in collecting intelligence from the Indonesian envoys and in Libya.
In response to reporters’ questions on whether the nominations Friday were related to the recent diplomatic mishaps, Hong said he was unable to comment as the government has not confirmed the media reports that NIS agents broke into the Indonesian delegation’s hotel room in February to steal arms procurement data.
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com