In the News – N. Korean leader’s wife visited S. Korea in 2005: spy agency

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In the News – N. Korean leader’s wife visited S. Korea in 2005: spy agency

SEOUL, July 26 (Yonhap) — The wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited South Korea in 2005 as part of a cheering squad for an athletic event, a South Korean lawmaker said Thursday, citing information provided by the South’s spy agency.

The revelation came one day after North Korean media identified the woman recently pictured flanking Kim as his wife, Ri Sol-ju.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) confirmed local media reports claiming Ri had visited the South Korean city of Incheon in 2005, Rep. Jung Chung-rai of the main opposition Democratic United Party told reporters after a parliamentary interpellation session attended by Won Sei-hoon, the director of the NIS.

Her visit was during an Asian athletics competition held in Incheon in September of that year, he said.

It is rare for South and North Koreans to visit each other’s countries, as they must receive special permission from their respective governments. The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war following the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.

NIS officials told lawmakers they believe Ri was born in 1989 and married the North Korean leader in 2009, according to Jung. The leader, whose age has been disputed due to the secretive nature of the reclusive regime, was confirmed to have been born in January 1984, the NIS officials said in the closed-door session.

The spy agency interpreted the North’s disclosure of the first lady as an attempt to give Kim a “stable image,” according to Jung.

News reports have often cited sources familiar with the communist regime as saying Kim lacks the support of his people due to his young age and lack of experience.

The young leader inherited the military-backed regime following the death of his father and longtime leader Kim Jong-il last December.

NIS officials also confirmed reports that Ri is a singer for the North’s Unhasu Orchestra, according to Jung. Details of her background have yet to emerge, but she is believed to have been born into an ordinary family and studied vocal music in China, he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun of the ruling Saenuri Party quoted NIS officials as saying North Korea’s former military chief Ri Yong-ho was dismissed earlier this month because of his “uncooperative attitude” toward Kim’s drive to tighten his grip on the military.

North Korea announced Ri’s dismissal last week in a surprise move that fueled speculation about a possible power struggle in Pyongyang.

Asked to explain the “uncooperative attitude,” Yoon said it was related to a generation shift within the 1.2-million-strong armed forces as Kim Jong-un moves to transfer control of the economy from the military to the government.

The lawmaker also quoted NIS officials as saying Ri appeared to have been “purged,” based on a July 21 re-run on North Korean state television of a visit to an orchard by Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un last year. Scenes of Ri, who accompanied the Kims on the trip, were deleted from the clip, he said.

On Kim Jong-un’s aunt Kim Kyong-hui and her husband Jang Song-thaek, both powerful figures in the communist regime, NIS officials said they appear to be strengthening their roles as the young leader’s guardians by respectively providing mental support and policy advice.

It is also the spy agency’s assessment that the North’s three-generation hereditary power succession has been completed with Kim’s promotions to the top levels of the country’s ruling Workers’ Party, government and military.

Following Ri’s dismissal, the North announced its leader had been given the title of marshal, the highest functioning military rank.

The NIS noted it took three years for former leader Kim Jong-il to complete his inheritance of power from his own father, the North’s founding leader Kim Il-sung.

Original Article 

In the News – Man arrested for alleged cyber terror with N. Korean spy

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In the News – Man arrested for alleged cyber terror with N. Korean spy

SEOUL, June 4 (Yonhap) — A Seoul man has been arrested on suspicion of colluding with a North Korean reconnaissance unit in China and distributing game programs infected with malignant codes to South Korea, police said Monday.

The man, only identified by his family name Cho, was apprehended after allegedly meeting in September 2009 with several spies, including a man surnamed Kim, from the North’s Reconnaissance General Bureau in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang and providing tens of millions of won for developing the illegal software, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said.

The 39-year-old Cho is accused of communicating on several occasions to develop the infected games with the spies, who had set up a cyber hacking base disguised as a trading firm in China, and selling them in South Korea, according to the police.

Cho, knowing that the games were infected, reportedly turned to the North’s reconnaissance unit in order to develop the games at a cheap price, the police said.

Cho is also accused of setting up a server in South Korea that was used by the North Korean spies in their attempts to hack into the South’s computer network via a so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack using “zombie” computers infected with a virus, the police added.

The police said they will investigate Cho for further crimes, as he is found to have retained the personal information of hundreds of thousands of people from major South Korean portals.

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Kiwi charged with spying for North Korea

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In the News – Kiwi charged with spying for North Korea

A NATURALISED New Zealander has been arrested in South Korea on suspicion of spying for North Korea after secretly being filmed meeting with an agent from that country.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported a 56-year-old man and a 74-year-old man were arrested in early May on charges of collecting military intelligence for North Korea.

The Chosun Ilbo, one of South Korea’s largest newspapers, reported that one of these men known only as “Kim” is a Korean-born New Zealand citizen. The other man is known as “Lee”.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman confirmed a New Zealander has been arrested in South Korea and that consular assistance has been offered to the man.

A police statement issued to Yonhap said the two men had been arrested for allegedly taking instruction from a North Korean agent while in the Chinese city of Dandong, along the North Korean border, in July last year.

Police say they have footage of the pair meeting with the agent and a statement from “Kim” saying he had received an order from North Korea, Chosun Ilbo reported.

It’s also alleged one of the men passed equipment capable of disturbing Global Positioning System (GPS) signals and intelligence on high-tech military equipment to the other accused.

It was not immediately clear whether the equipment and information was passed to the North Korean agent, Yonhap reported.

The 74-year-old was reportedly sentenced to life in prison on a separate espionage charge in 1972, though he was released on parole in 1990.

Still, he retains his allegiance to North Korea, according to the police statement issued to Yonhap.

The arrest of the alleged spies coincided with North Korea’s jamming of GPS signals, a satellite-based navigation system widely used by planes, ships and the military as well as in vehicles.

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Controversy Follows Comments on Military Operations in N.Korea

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In the News – Controversy Follows Comments on Military Operations in N.Korea

Earlier this week, a U.S. Army Brigadier General Neil Tolley stirred controversy this week with comments about American and South Korean military operations in North Korea. On Wednesday, General Tolley said he had been unclear in his comments about possible U.S. operations, and said that “at no time have we sent special operations forces into North Korea.”

There are concerns about the ramifications of what the leader of the U.S. special operations command in South Korea said at a panel discussion in Tampa, Florida, on May 22.

Brigadier General Neil Tolley, to an audience of hundreds of people at the Special Operations Forces Industry conference, discussed the challenges the United States faces determining what is inside North Korea’s many secret tunnels.

Freelance combat reporter and technology writer David Axe was among those listening to the general.

“He was describing the utility of human intelligence on the ground in North Korea. He was describing it as though it were actually happening right now,” said Axe. “He since has walked that back to say that he was speaking hypothetically, although he didn’t say at the time he was speaking hypothetically.” Continue reading

In the News – U.S. Denies Sending Commandos to Spy in N.Korea

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In the News – U.S. Denies Sending Commandos to Spy in N.Korea

U.S. military officials are rejecting a report that U.S. military commandos have been parachuting into North Korea to gather intelligence on Pyongyang’s underground military installations.

The Tokyo-based political journal The Diplomat carried a report on Monday alleging that a senior U.S. special operations commander revealed the purported commando program at a conference in Florida last week.

U.S. Defense Department press secretary George Little told reporters Tuesday that the report misquoted Army Brigadier General Neil Tolley.

“My understanding is that the general’s comments were contorted, distorted, misreported, and that, you know, there is in no way any substance to the assertion. Again, that was misreported that there are U.S. boots on the ground in North Korea. That is simply incorrect.”

Little said the United States works closely and on a daily basis with its allies in the region to develop information on North Korean intentions and capabilities.

Colonel Jonathan Withington, a spokesperson for the United States Forces Korea, said Tuesday that “great liberal license” was made with Tolley’s comments, and that some of the quotes were “made up and attributed to him.”

The Diplomat quoted Tolley as saying that U.S. and South Korean commandos were taking part in the reconnaissance mission, which it said is aimed at uncovering information on “thousands of tunnels” built by Pyongyang since the Korean War.

Withington said it is well-known that North Korea uses tunnels to hide its sensitive military operations. But he said “at no time” have U.S. or South Korean forces parachuted into North Korea to conduct special reconnaissance.

The author of the report in The Diplomat, David Axe, rejected suggestions that he fabricated the quotes attributed to the general. He said that if the general was speaking hypothetically, “he did not say so” and that “he spoke in the present tense” and “at length.”

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – S. Korean police arrest two suspected spies for N. Korea

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In the News – S. Korean police arrest two suspected spies for N. Korea

SEOUL, May 31 (Yonhap) — South Korean police said Thursday they have arrested two men suspected of spying for a North Korean intelligence agency.

The two men, aged 56 and 74 and both involved in business with North Korea, were arrested in early May on charges of collecting military intelligence after being instructed by a man believed to be a North Korean agent in Dandong, a Chinese city along the North Korean border, in July last year, police said in a statement.

The 74-year-old received equipment capable of disturbing global positioning system (GPS) signals and other intelligence on high-tech military equipment from the 56-year-old.

Police said they referred the case to prosecutors last week.

It was not immediately clear whether the 74-year-old passed the equipment and other military intelligence to the suspected North Korean agent.

Repeated calls to police seeking a comment went unanswered on Thursday.

The 74-year-old was sentenced to life in prison on a separate espionage charge in 1972, though he was released on parole in 1990. Still, he retains his allegiance to North Korea, according to the police statement.

The arrest of the alleged spies coincided with North Korea’s jamming of GPS signals, a satellite-based navigation system widely used by planes, ships and the military as well as ordinary drivers.

South Korea has said North Korea disrupted GPS signals between April 28 and May 13, affecting more than 650 flights by South Korean and foreign airlines, including Korean Air, FedEx and United Airlines.

However, North Korea has denied responsibility for the jamming attacks, calling Seoul’s accusation a “new farce and smear campaign” against Pyongyang.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – N. Korean defector-spy gets 4-yr jail term for assassination attempt

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In the News – N. Korean defector-spy gets 4-yr jail term for assassination attempt

SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) — A North Korean defector-turned-spy was sentenced to four years in prison for attempting to kill a fellow defector in South Korea at the order of the communist regime, court officials said Thursday.

The secret agent, surnamed Ahn, was charged with plotting to kill Park Sang-hak, a defector leading anti-Pyongyang propaganda activities in the South, with a poisoned needle in September.

He was also ordered to pay 11.75 million won (US$10,399) in fines, the equivalent of his payment from the North.

“Severe punishment is needed for crimes that can threaten the existence and safety of the Republic of Korea (South Korea),” the Seoul Central District Court said in a ruling. “However, (the court) took into consideration the circumstances that led Ahn to commit the crime, such as the fact that he was unexpectedly given the poisoned needle while gathering North Korea intelligence for the National Intelligence Service (NIS),” the South’s spy agency.

Ahn defected to the South in 1995 and served as a director of a company handling inter-Korean economic projects. In 2010, he came into contact with a North Korean spy during business trips to Mongolia, and was later ordered to carry out the assassination, court officials said.

Ahn said he followed the instructions out of resentment for the NIS, as he informed the agency of the assassination plot and offered to gather top intelligence on the communist regime, but was rebuffed and even warned of possible legal consequences, according to the officials.

North Korea has said it opposes all forms of terrorism, though it has a track record of terrorist attacks against South Korea. The Koreas are technically at war with each other after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce.

Original article can be found here.