Update: The Chosun Ilbo thinks the investigation’s recent lack of progress is suspicious.
A court has issued five indictments, including one against U.S. citizen, former soldier, and current traitor, Jang Min Ho. In the Korean judicial system, those who are indicted are virtually always convicted, so these fellows are looking at some time.
Prosecutors also said the group delivered secret information to Pyongyang under direct or e-mail directives from a North Korean spy operative. The information provided was mostly collected from political parties and major government offices, they said.
The use of the plural “offices” certainly raises my curiosity, since last word was that “a” Blue House secretary was a suspect.
The five have also allegedly formed several similar pro-Pyongyang organizations in the Democratic Labor Party and progressive civic groups and attempted to use the sensitive issues of a free trade agreement with the United States and the planned relocation of U.S. troops to the south of Seoul in stirring up anti-American sentiment among South Koreans.
Successfully, I would add. Expect the trials to be completed before the winner of the 2007 election takes office, or these fellows stand a serious chance of going directly where I’d send them: presuming the sufficiency of the evidence, to hang. This, sadly, will never happen. Instead, these men will be the beneficiaries of an amnesty within six months of the GNP losing the 2012 presidential election.
I look forward to the day when the United States asks to extradite Mr. Jang. I am told that in USP Marion, a useful skill is the ability to lean back against a shower wall, curl one’s toes around a bar of soap, and slide it up to where one can grab it with one’s hand.
Update: Here are the names of those indicted:
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in interim results announced Friday said it indicted Chang Min-ho, a 44-year-old ethnic Korean businessman from the U.S. and alleged leader of the ring; Sohn Chong-mok, a former student activist; Lee Jung-hoon, a former member of the minor opposition Democratic Labor Party; Lee Jin-gang, an employee in Chang’s firm; and Choi Ki-young, the DLP vice secretary general.
The Chosun Ilbo reports that prosecutors are expanding their investigation into the ring, which had several sub-cells, each with its own specific assignment:
The office said the spy ring dubbed Ilshimhoe consisted of four cells. One of them was tasked with promoting the North’s Songun or military-first ideology and led by Lee Jung-hoon, who was in charge of targeting the Seoul area in the DLP. Another led by Lee Jin-gang was in charge of targeting civic organizations. Prosecutors described the scandal as an attempt to establish a fifth column by infiltrating political parties and converting activists to North Korean ideologies.
That still doesn’t tell us what two other cells were supposed to do (more on Il Shim Hue’s work within the Democratic Peoples’ Labor Party here). Instructions came straight from Pyongyang:
Members allegedly got instructions form the North directly or by e-mail to organize anti-American activities, such as protests against the planned Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and the move of U.S. Forces Korea headquarters to Pyeongtaek. It also allegedly spied on leading DLP members and passed confidential documents including one on the disposition of U.S. troop bases to Pyongyang.
Yes. Allegedly. Though the prosecutors have e-mails passing along that the Dear Leader’s regards, in which he claimed to value them “like gold.” That may be overstating it, because the spies worked cheap. Jang, the cell leader, received just $16,500 in walking around money.
The Joongang Ilbo quotes prosecutor Ahn Chang-Ho, regarding just how big Pyongyang’s role in the anti-American movement really was:
He said the group “masterminded protests against the U.S. Army’s move to a new Pyeongtaek base, a free-trade agreement with the United States and the protests after two girls were killed by a U.S. military vehicle, all following North Korean instructions.”
The prosecution made public one alleged instruction from Pyongyang, a document they said was sent in October 2005 to Mr. Jang’s group. The e-mail said, “At the time of Bush’s visit for the APEC summit meeting, you should mobilize a wide range of groups and crowds to hold a large-scale anti-American battle.” Indeed, some 15,000 laborers and farmers wielding iron pipes were on hand in Busan at the meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation heads of state. Prosecutors said they believed they could link the group to those protests.
More here, at the Dong-A Ilbo.
On a related note, another North Korean spy was sentenced to ten years for his apparently unrelated activities (remember him?).