NIS Agents in Break-In 'Were Industrial Espionage Experts'

      February 22, 2011 09:25

      The National Intelligence Service agents who broke into a hotel room of a visiting high-level Indonesian delegation on Wednesday were apparently operatives based with the agency's industrial espionage team, according to a government official. He said the team is responsible for preventing domestic industrial secrets from being leaked overseas and gathering information both at home and abroad that is deemed sensitive to national security.

      The two men and one woman who broke into the hotel room of the Indonesian delegation were caught looking at a laptop and fled.

      The NIS overhauled its organizational structure in the fall of 2009 and transferred agents in charge of spying on North Korea to gathering sensitive industrial and scientific information and other special operations. The role of the industrial espionage team was bolstered because Korea was increasingly becoming a target of corporate espionage as a growing number of Korean businesses acquired cutting-edge mobile phone and semiconductor technology.

      But the NIS is facing mounting criticism from government officials because talks with the Indonesians about the sale of weapons were going well, with the visiting officials asking Korea in a meeting with President Lee Myung-bak to serve as a major partner in the Southeast Asian country's economic development plans. Critics say there was therefore no reason for the NIS to intervene.

      Only last Tuesday, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin met with visiting Indonesian Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro and discussed Indonesia's purchase of Korean-made T-50 trainer jets, K2 Black Panther main battle tanks, and portable surface-to-air missiles.

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