An opposition lawmaker unveiled internal documents of the National Intelligence Service Monday as evidence backing allegations that the spy agency engaged in illegal activity during the presidential election last year.
Police are investigating an NIS official suspected of waging an online slander campaign against opposition groups during the election.
Jin Sun-mee, a lawmaker from the Democratic United Party, revealed a document containing chief Won Se-hoon’s orders to counter antigovernment arguments.
Public officials including NIS staff are banned from political activities by law.
“Evidence and suspicions are continuing to emerge that the NIS committed crimes of illegal political interference. Those responsible should be strictly punished,” the lawmaker told a news conference.
|Jin Sun-mee, a lawmaker from the Democratic United Party, on Monday reveals a document containing National Intelligence Service chief Won Se-hoon’s orders for his staff to counter anti-government arguments. (Yonhap News)|
Rep. Jin said NIS chief Won directed his staff to actively respond to antigovernment cybercampaigns and instigations by pro-North Korea leftists during the December presidential election last year and to promote flagship projects of the Lee Myung-bak government including the four-river restoration plan.
Won in the document labeled the Korean Teachers and Education Workers Union and Korea Confederation of Trade Unions, which all are legitimate groups, as pro-North Korea leftist groups, and encouraged his agents to ask heads of offices and schools relevant to the unions for cooperation in punishing the members.
Won also said national security education is highly necessary as there still are people who think the Sunshine Policy, a North Korea policy touted by late former president Kim Dae-jung, worked better to prevent North Korea’s provocations (than current policies).
The revelation of alleged political interruption is expected to bring more controversy as it could be directly linked to a previous case involving an intelligence officer, who is accused of running online slander campaigns against Moon Jae-in, a former presidential candidate of the opposition Democratic United Party in the December election and other opposition party members.
The NIS said through a press statement Monday that Won’s orders and activities are “justifiable and based on the code of duty” and he always emphasized the importance of being politically neutral.
Won, who was vice mayor of Seoul City from 2003 to 2006 helping then-Mayor Lee Myung-bak, has been a longtime aide of Lee.
Won headed the Ministry of Public Administration and Security in 2008, and was appointed as the chief of the NIS in 2009.
When Lee’s close aide was tapped to head the NIS, concerns were raised over whether the agency would become too loyal to the administration.
The Korean Central Intelligence Agency, predecessor to the NIS, had a history of suppressing those who were against the conservative government in the 1960s.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org