Historic Spying Case Was Inflated, NIS Finds

      January 26, 2006 22:09

      A National Intelligence Service truth commission on Thursday concluded that a 1967 case in which its precursor agency accused some 194 academics, artists and students of spying for North Korea was not a complete fabrication but grossly trumped up. The Korea Central Intelligence Agency in the so-called "Tongbaengnim" spy ring case accused victims of spying and contacts with the North Korean Embassy in East Berlin.

      Defendants stand trial for allegedly spying for communist North Korea in this file picture from Nov. 9, 1967.

      The commission said the case was not a pure invention, as many believed. "Some of the accused actually did receive money or special training from the North in violation of South Korean laws," it said.

      According to the committee, some Koreans living in Europe from the late 1950s contacted North Korea in one way or another, which constituted a violation of the National Security Law or the criminal code. Some 12 visited the North, 26 exchanged money and other articles with the country and 17 were specially trained by the Stalinist country. Three or four of them even let the North know that they safely arrived when they returned to South Korea. But the KCIA then went overboard, denouncing any contact as espionage and tortured suspects under interrogation, the commission said.

      Those implicated include the famous Korean-German composer Yun I-sang, who the commission said visited the North, received money from the country and arranged visits to a North Korean Embassy for a friend at the North’s behest.

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