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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid