2 traders arrested for spying for North Korea
By Yi Whan-woo
Prosecutors have arrested two traders doing business in China on charges of spying for the Stalinist regime.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said Thursday that the two suspects allegedly leaked military intelligence, including technology for jamming global positioning systems (GPS), to a North Korean agent in China.
The office added it was questioning a former weapons producer to verify allegations that he handed over arms-related information to the two.
The prosecution took over the case from police, who started investigating earlier this month.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency had questioned the suspects, including a 74-year-old surnamed Lee.
“We believe that the suspects engaged in spying activities for North Korea. We’ve already obtained video clips that show Lee meeting the alleged agent,” an investigator said.
Lee was sentenced to life in prison for spying for North Korea in 1972. He was released on parole in 1990, but still maintained his allegiance to the communist regime, according to police.
He has run a business in Dandong, China, where he first received secret orders in July 2011 from a man believed to be dispatched from the North. The alleged agent instructed Lee to collect South Korean military intelligence including information on high-tech equipment.
Lee then contacted a 56-year-old fellow trader, surnamed Kim with New Zealand citizenship, who had an ex-arms producer acquaintance in the South.
The three allegedly handed over details on military equipment and other related information. Included was intelligence on a radar navigation system and long-range rocket detectors.
“The intelligence they collected were manuals that outline details about the equipment, and that is information the public can never have access to,” an investigator said. “If the North Korean agency really has them, it means our military is fully exposed to the enemy.”
The prosecution will also look into any relations between the suspects and North Korea’s jamming of GPS signals between April 28 and May 13.
More than 600 flights including South Korean and foreign airlines were disrupted by a jammed satellite-based navigation system that is also used for military purposes.
The government accused North Korea of the disruption and lodged a complaint with the Pyongyang regime. However, the North denied any involvement in the jamming.