News / Asia

South Korea Arrests 2 Alleged Spies for North

SEOUL - South Korean police Thursday revealed they arrested two men this month for alleged espionage activities on behalf of North Korea.

Prosecutors say they are attempting to determine whether the suspects played a role in the recent widespread jamming of global positioning signal (GPS) receivers in South Korea. The interference forced planes and ships to rely on backup navigational equipment.

Authorities say the interference was noted by pilots of hundreds of commercial flights over South Korea between April 28 and May 13. It also affected GPS receivers in ships in and near the port of Incheon.

At the time, officials here said they had pinpointed the jamming as emanating from Kaesong, above the DMZ in North Korea.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency says one of the suspects, a 74-year-old businessman identified only by his surname Lee, has a previous espionage conviction.

The second suspect, identified as Kim, 56 years of age, acquired citizenship in New Zealand and was conducting business there. A third individual, named Chung, who is under investigation, but has not been arrested, is a former defense contractor.

Police say one of the men had orders from Pyongyang to acquire GPS jamming devices and radar systems.

A police inspector says that Kim and Lee had sophisticated technical knowledge and met with a North Korean agent in Dandong in northeastern China in July of last year.

The president of the non-governmental Korea Defense Network, Shin In-kyun, says people are not dissuaded from spying for the North because actual sentences are not severe, even though those convicted of espionage can face a death sentence.

Shin says that when Lee, the suspect in this current case, was previously convicted in the 1970's he only served a 17-year sentence. But currently the punishments for spying are much lighter, usually about a three-to-four year prison term. Shin says the prison terms need to be lengthened to send a warning to those contemplating acts of espionage.

No one has been executed in South Korea since 1997.

From time to time, South Koreans are apprehended on charges of spying for the North.

News of the latest arrests come as South Korea's political mainstream began to move against a pair of lawmakers in the National Assembly regarded as potential security threats.

Lee Seok-gi and Kim Jae-yeon took their seats in the parliament Wednesday despite allegations that the pro-North sympathizers won their posts in March through a rigged party primary.

The two are among 13 lawmakers from the far-left United Progressive Party (UPP). They are members of the party's largest faction, composed of former student activists known for their sympathies towards Pyongyang.

Conservative members in the legislature say they are worried some of the UPP lawmakers will leak state secrets to the North that they will have access to as potential members of the intelligence or defense committees.

The two Koreas have no diplomatic relations and no peace treaty. The United States and Soviet Union in 1945 agreed to divide the peninsula along the 38th parallel. Elections in the south brought to power in Seoul the anti-communist Rhee Syng-man while the Soviets installed Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang.

Kim invaded the South in 1950. A devastating three-year civil war with foreign troops on both sides was fought to a stalemate.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steven L Herman is the Voice of America Asia correspondent.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid