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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid