November 10, 2010 08:53
A senior researcher at North Korea's National Academy of Sciences has been arrested on espionage charges, it emerged on Tuesday.
A high-level North Korean source quoted rumors that Kim So-in, who is believed to have been in charge of the North's nuclear and missile development, and his family were arrested by the State Security Department and taken to the notorious Yodok concentration camp in May.
A math prodigy who received his doctorate in his early 20s, Kim was said by the state media to have been behind the supposed launch of the North's first satellite -- an event widely believed to have been a long-range ballistic missile test.
The source said Kim is accused of assisting his father Kim Song-il, a researcher at the Yongbyon Nuclear Complex, in delivering top secret documents on nuclear development to a foreign agency.
The security department is nervous because many senior officials in various areas are suspected of attempting to earn dollars by selling confidential information, with top secret documents about the regime's nuclear and missile development being leaked abroad, the source added.
Pak Kyong-chol, an official in the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, has also recently been sent to a labor camp for spying, and Kim Won-bom, the chief of the Wonsan office of the North Korean military bureau in charge of earning hard currency, has been arrested after US$1.5 million was found at his home.
And a senior official at the Kumgang bureau of the Majon Mine has been taken into custody for stashing away $100,000 after selling confidential information in conspiracy with military officers.
Senior officials are trying to sell confidential information because of economic difficulties since the botched currency reform late last year and the Chinese government's recent crackdown on drug and counterfeit dollar transactions.
The security services have been ordered by regime heir Kim Jong-un to look out for "unusually rich" senior officials, the source added.
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