Cyber spies embarrass South Korea

2013-05-13 14:41
A scandal has engulfed South Korea's spy agency. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

A scandal has engulfed South Korea's spy agency. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Seoul - The scandal shaking up South Korea's main spy agency is not cloak-and-dagger stuff, but the kind of low-grade trickery anyone with an internet connection could pull off. And the target was not Seoul's opaque rival to the north, but the country's own people.

Internet postings ostensibly from ordinary South Koreans, but actually from National Intelligence Service agents, allegedly boosted President Park Geun-hye while she was running for the job as the ruling party's nominee. She was reportedly dubbed "the best", while her opponent, in a play on his name, was called "criminal".

A police investigation conducted before the December election found no wrongdoing, but now police say at least two agents violated the law and the original investigation is itself being examined.

Dozens of internet comments, or more, may not have affected an election that Park won by a million votes, but they have damaged public trust in a spy agency that already had a dubious record.

The agency was founded in 1961 by Park's father, long-time dictator Park Chung-hee. Agents detained, tortured and even allegedly killed his political opponents. After Park was killed in 1979 - by his spy chief, ironically enough - other abuses occurred under his successors.


In recent years, however, criticism of the NIS has centred on what it has failed to do - namely, come up with much intelligence about North Korea. It learned about Kim Jong Il's death in December 2011 two days after it occurred, when Pyongyang's state TV announced it.

The internet comments scandal captured headlines in South Korean media in April when state prosecutors summoned the agency's former director, Won Sei-hoon, and raided its Seoul headquarters. Reports recalled the unfortunate fates of predecessors who ended up being arrested, imprisoned or even killed.

"The prosecution will mobilise all its capabilities to swiftly and thoroughly get the truth of the case," Prosecutor-general Chae Dong-Wook said in a meeting with top prosecution officials on Tuesday, according to his office. "This case should be investigated in a way not to have any lingering suspicion."

The scandal flared about one week before the 19 December election. Liberal opposition members camped outside the apartment of an NIS officer allegedly involved in illicit online campaigning, based on a tip from another agent.
Read more on:    south korea  |  cybercrime

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.