S. Korean Spymaster Resigns; Fifth Column Scandal Widens

Here, as foreshadowed in Update 6 to this post.   Like Lee, NIS  Chief Kim Seung-Kyu  must be  resigning to celebrate the success of his tenure.

Following Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon, who expressed his wish to quit in mid-November to prepare for his new job as the U.N. secretary-general, Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung and Unification Minister Lee Jong-seok offered to resign earlier this week, holding themselves responsible for “confused” policies on the North Korean nuclear crisis and the Seoul-Washington military alliance.

Not everyone had been expecting this.

“The president had intended to separate the reshuffle of his foreign and security team from the replacement of the NIS chief. But the situation changed due to Kim’s resignation,” said a ranking official at Roh’s office Cheong Wa Dae.

The star of DOA 56 continues to be the favored choice to replace Ban Ki Moon:

“With Song Min-soon, chief presidential secretary for security policy, favored as new foreign minister, all members of the foreign and security policy team will be replaced.”

The resignation may also be tied to the discovery of this North Korean  espionage ring  involving members of South Korea’s radical left,chiefly among the Democratic Labor Party.   North Korean influence over the left in South Korea  shouldn’t have come as a huge shock to anyone who had read my recent testimony.  Nor do I know why it surprises me that Americans would betray their country, what, with CNN just a few buttons away on my remote and Madame Nguyen Thi Binh’s near-betrayal of the Viet Cong to a reserve naval officer from Massachusetts.  But I digress.

Authorities are holding a U.S. citizen, Michael Chang (44), who they say was trained as a spy in North Korea between 1989 and 1993, became a member of the ruling Korean Workers Party, pledged allegiance to the party, and spied for the North for 10 years.

More interesting details on ex-DLP leader and commie agent Choi Ki-Young.

Investigators believe [vice DLP secretary general Choi Ki-young] was the link among the former student activists — members of the so-called 386 generation — and was also in touch with Pyongyang. Choi, a leading student activist in the 1980s, has extensive contacts among politicians and labor organizations. He was an executive of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and played a key role in establishing the DLP. He served time in jail for violating the law on demonstrations but was given W8.9 million (US$1=W950) in compensation from an official body called the Commission for Democratization Movement Activists’ Honor-Restoration and Compensation in March this year. Lee Jung-hun, who took the lead in the three-day seizure of the U.S. Information Service building in Seoul in May 1985, was given W39 million by the commission in November 2001.

If I’d known this a month ago….

Incidentally, tarring the entire 386 generation with the big red brush seems a bit excessive to me.

So why resign just because he actually caught some people?   Maybe because  Korean culture has a no-fault, all-encompassing concept of command responsibility for everything that goes wrong under the leader’s watch.  But it would be interesting to know just what the NIS knew, and when.


  1. Is this individual really a US citizen? The ROK media sometimes has a problem distinguishing between a green card holder (registered alien) and a US citizen. However, regardless of the situation whether a registered alien or citizen, there are ramifications.

    What is the US doing about Michael Chang (Chang Min-ho)?

    If the individual were an American citizen in 1993 — which I doubt — when recruited, he was guilty of treason. If he is a green card holder who entered the US AFTER 1993 without declaring he was an agent of the DPRK, his “green card” will be revoked — and he will be deported. If he became an American citizen AFTER 1993, he lied under oath swore to become a citizen as he was an existing agent of a foreign power and therefore open to charges of “treason.” This will involve the Federal Bureau of Investigation — the same as Robert Kim who was jailed for spying for South Korea.

    Where’s the US statement???


  2. Kalani, First, a big welcome. I love your site and wonder where you find the time to compile all that information. Are you still at Osan?

    All the reports I’ve seen are consistent that this man is a USC. If so, we can request jurisdiction, but if he’s a dual national, we have to wait until the Koreans are done with him first, which could be a while.

    Interesting point about treason, which is that under the Constitution, you need three witnesses to prove it. That’s why treason is very seldom charged. Other more likely charges include espionage and violation of the Foreign Agents’ Registration Act. Espionage is also a Specified Unlawful Activity for money laundering, meaning that almost any transaction using Kim Jong Il’s money also sets him up for a big hit under 18 USC 1956, the money laundering statute, plus forfeiture of any proceeds. Finally, there could be tax evasion charges.

    Bottom line: assume the FBI is making inquiries. They probably have an attache at the embassy in Seoul. So does CIA, of course, and as a foreign intel matter, this is probably their jurisdiction, too.

    If he did what the NIS says, I’d personally volunteer to throw the switch on Old Sparky. But he’ll probably get hard time instead. The big question is how much this guy could implicate the ruling party, in which case, the Koreans might have a disincentive to give the FBI access to this guy.


  3. The Seoul Central District Public Prosecutors Office and the National Intelligence Service said Mr. Jang had joined the U.S. military in 1989 when he was a permanent resident of the United States and served at Yongsan Garrison, the headquarters base of U.S. Forces Korea, for four years. He obtained U.S. citizenship in 1993. They accused him of having paid his first visit to North Korea in 1989, just before joining the U.S. Army. He allegedly traveled there again in 1993, joining the North Korean Workers Party that year.
    Mr. Jang is suspected of having operated as an undercover agent for Pyongyang since then, the prosecution and intelligence service sources said. In 1997, he was said to have organized a group of former student activists targeted at gathering information from members of political parties and civic groups.


    During his first visit to North Korea in 1989, he was a student activist. Then he goes to the US on his green card and joins the military in 1989.

    Question 1: In US as he was still 20, he probably had a sponsor. What relationship? Are they involved as well? My guess is LA where the last “DPRK foreign agent” turned up.

    Question 2: On the US military recruiting form, did he put down his visit to North Korea — at that time banned by the South Korean and US government … or is this one of those “don’t ask, don’t tell” items on the new Army recruitment checklist.

    Question 3: While at Yongsan, did he have access to sensitive material? Most likely didn’t have a top secret clearance as not a citizen — but hope the FBI is checking this out.