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Traitor spies? Seoul intel chief indicted for covering up official’s death near N. Korea

Park Jie-Won, left, and Suh Hoon
by WorldTribune Staff, August 1, 2022

Whatever happened to the idea of a professional, apolitical and above all patriotic intelligence corps?

First, we had an Oct. 19, 2020 letter signed by 51 former U.S. intelligence chiefs and other officials that dismissed the Hunter Biden laptop story as “Russian disinformation,” resulting in a story being buried that would have been devastating to Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign.

Now consider a shocking spy scandal in South Korea, a top U.S. Asian ally.

Two former directors of South Korea's National Intelligence Service (INS) during the administration of leftist President Moon Jae-In have been indicted for allegedly covering up the death in North Korea of a Ministry of Ocean and Fisheries official.

Criminal charges were filed against Park Ji-Won and Suh Hoon for violating the National Intelligence Service Act (abuse of authority), Tara O noted in a report for the East Asia Research Center.

Park was charged with offenses related to his handling of the death of Lee Dae-Jun, who was shot and killed by North Korean soldiers and his body burnt at sea in September 2020.

In a separate case, Suh was charged with prematurely stopping an investigation into the case of two fishermen who defected from North Korea, but were forcibly sent back to North Korea by the Moon administration on Nov. 7, 2019.

"The Moon administration framed the events as if Lee was defecting to North Korea, but his family retorted that was not the case," the report noted.

Park, who was the NIS Director from July 2020 to May 2022, was reported to have destroyed intelligence reports related to Lee’s case.

Related: The October 2020 lie: Heads of U.S. intelligence, ‘experts’ called Hunter report a Russian ‘laptop op’, March 20, 2022

Hoon, NIS Director from June 1, 2017 – July 2, 2020, was charged with fabricating false public documents. He allegedly instructed Park to destroy classified reports in Lee's case.

In both cases, Tara O noted, "further details are emerging that counter the Moon administration’s narrative, and show severe violations of human rights as well as acts that help the adversary, North Korea."

On Sept. 21, 2020, Lee Dae-Jun was reported missing from a South Korean government ship on the West Sea. In the morning the next day, South Korean authorities became aware that Lee was alive and floating at sea, and a report went up to Moon, but no orders were given to try to rescue the South Korean citizen. That night after 9 p.m., Lee was shot and killed and is body was incinerated.

The Blue House convened emergency meetings of the National Security Council (NSC) about Lee’s situation at 1 a.m. and again at 10 a.m. on September 23, attended by then-National Security Director Suh and NIS Director Park, along with Defense Minister Seo Wook.

"Instead of any decisions to try to rescue Lee Dae-Jun, it appears what came out of the meetings was an instruction to destroy the information about Lee," Taro O noted.

It was revealed that, after the NSC held meetings, “about 40 pieces of secret information regarding Lee’s death were deleted, including intercepted North Korean information about Lee, from MIMS,” a Defense Ministry’s classified system. Deleting such information from the system requires a decision from the highest levels. The deletion occurred over two days, Sept. 23 and 24, 2020.

It is for the deletion of such crucial sensitive information for which the NIS filed charges against its Park. The deleted documents at NIS include a report prepared by NIS analysts assessing that Lee was adrift (after falling from a boat), rather than defecting to North Korea. The deleted report used intercepted intelligence from the military that showed Lee identified himself as a Republic of Korea (ROK) civil servant and asked the North Koreans for assistance. It appears that Suh, the National Security Director at the Blue House instructed the destruction of the classified reports and Park carried it out at NIS.

The Moon administration had suggested that Lee defected to North Korea, which essentially turned him into a traitor.

"This accusation turned out to be a fabrication," Taro O noted. "The Moon administration never provided any evidence to form a basis for their accusation, but its assertion was extremely hurtful to Lee’s family. The Coast Guard recently reversed their earlier position only after the Moon administration ended, saying there is no evidence of Lee defecting to North Korea, and apologized."

In addition to the Abuse of Authority, Suh is also charged with Fabricating False Public Documents. After NIS, Suh Hoon moved to the Blue House to become the Director of the National Security Office. Suh left South Korea sometime after May of this year and is believed to have gone to the U.S., probably to avoid the investigation, the report noted.

Tara O also noted: "About a month before the end of Moon Jae-In’s presidency, the Democratic Party of Korea (DPK, Deobureo Minjoo Party) introduced a law, the 'Complete Deprivation of Prosecutors’ Investigation Authority,' which takes away investigative authority from the prosecutors. The law was passed and signed by Moon Jae-In days before he departed the Blue House in early March 2022. It is to take effect on September 10, 2022."

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