The Korea Herald


Man cleared of spy charges, wrongful imprisonment and 55 years too late

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : July 10, 2024 - 14:18

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South Korea's highest court recently upheld a lower court ruling that cleared an 82-year-old man of spy charges, for which he served a seven-year prison term after being convicted over five decades ago.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by the prosecution, who claimed that the man, surnamed Kim, was guilty on some of the charges pressed against him back in 1969. The court said the evidence presented against him did not indicate that Kim could potentially threaten the nation's security or existence, or that he is inclined to.

Kim requested a retrial in 2022, and was found to be innocent by the Seoul High Court in February of this year. The court had said that he was illegally detained, and his confession had been forced by torture which included waterboarding, beating and electrocution.

Kim, who was a Korea University graduate school student in the 1960s, had been studying at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom in 1966. He was accused of contacting North Korean spies to deliver orders, reading books about socialist ideas, and sympathizing with the communist state's ideals.

The prosecution claimed that he was persuaded to join the pro-North side by late Park No-su, an international law professor who was a visiting scholar at Cambridge at the time. He and then-ruling party lawmaker Kim Gyu-nam were accused of being spies for North Korea, and both were executed in 1972.

But the state-run Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Republic of Korea in 2009 found that a wide range of illegal actions by the country's spy agency, which included torture and threats, were involved in the investigation. The Supreme Court cleared both Park and Rep. Kim of the charges in 2015, more than 40 years after they were wrongly executed by the state.