Tuesday, August 22, 2006

North Korean Espionage in Seoul

No, it's not the spy! I posted a picture for those who hate to read (but this is a bad blog to come to if you hate reading). The picture of actor actor 유오성, Yoo Oh-seong, who portrayed a North Korea spy in the 1999 South Korean comedy The Spy. (Image taken from the Korean Film Archive website.)

Oh boy! Fun and espionage in Seoul, South Korea!

Today while waiting for my monthly "she's an insulin dependent pump wearing diabetic" check-up, I had the chance to scan a couple of news papers.

Both the International Herald Tribune and the Joong-Ang Ilbo ran stories on the recent arrest of a North Korean spy. This arrest happened on the eve of the Ulji Focus Lens which is a joint military drill between the US and South Korea. Both the US and South Korea claim it's a purely defensive exercise. However, North Korea always claims it is a grave military provocation. As if shooting off missiles, selling arms, declaring your country to be a nuclear power and having a dictator state isn't a good reason for both the US and South Korea to be on high alert and work together.

Well, clearly, for the North Koreans sending spies down to South Korea is justified.

South Korean authorities arrested 48 year old Jeong Gyong-hak who entered the country on a Phillipine passport he acquired by bribing officials in the Phillipines. According to the International Herald Tribune article, he was arrested in a Seoul hotel where officials seized a Philippine passport and "$3,188 and a compact disc that contained codes to de-scramble instructions from Pyongyang." He is reported to have "...allegedly took pictures and acquired map coordinates for military radar facilities, nuclear power plants, and U.S. and South Korean military headquarters..."

According to the Joong-ang Ilbo article, the purpose of this espionage was to verify the exact coordinates of military targets such as the Air Force radar facilities and Defense Ministry headquarters. Authorities also revealed that Jeong traveled to South Korea before on a Thai passport three times between 1996 and 1998. The Tribune reported that the passport was changed from Thai to a Phillipine passport to avoid being exposed after a North Korean diplomat defected in Bangkok in 1999.

So, for now, the stories coming out of South Korea have me typing away. Let's hope the fun continues.

More articles:
South Korea arrests suspected spy from North
South Korea 'arrests North spy'

Same anger, different year:
Anger over Korea military exercise (2002 "anger")
N Korea condemns US-South drills (2006 "anger")

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  1. Ever since I read
    Eyes of the Tailless Animal
    , North Korea has been a big mystery to me.

  2. Interesting book. I've not read it, but it's something I'd like to read soon.

    I don't know if it's a big mystery. I mean if you don't know any better then it's no big deal. Most North Koreans know a reality that their government tells them. The border isn't open. They can't travel. With cell phones and the internet more people are getting exposure to the outside world and the famine that struck a few years back was so bad that some started questioning what they've been told.

    It's just if you don't know better, you believe it. The documentary A State of Mind shows the same unquestioning dedication. Also, even if you disagree you know to keep it to yourself.

    I think it's a mixture of culture, pride and self-interest that has warped into a completely misguided nation-state.


Hey there! Thanks for visiting my blog. It's my first blog, and I'm glad folks are still stopping by even though I'm no longer living in South Korea. Feel free to comment. If you want a personal answer, leave your email, and I won't publish the comment. Nasty comments and spam links will not be tolerated.