NIS Chief Scotches Rumors of Kim Jong-nam's Defection

      November 13, 2012 10:05

      National Intelligence Service chief Won Sei-hoon on Monday denied rumors that late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's eldest son has defected to a third country, and that South Korea’s intelligence was involved in the defection.

      "The NIS will not meddle in such a thing," Won was quoted as saying by Rep. Jung Cheong-rae of the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee.

      At a National Assembly audit, Won also denied suspicions that the NIS is stirring up trouble and inciting fear of North Korea to benefit the ruling Saenuri Party, which traditionally benefits from cross-border tension, ahead of the presidential election.

      "Rumor has it that Kim Jong-nam is being persuaded to defect to [South Korea] in order to sway votes in the presidential election," Won admitted, but he denied the NIS has a hand in this.

      Kim Jong-nam, who was passed over for the succession in favor of his younger brother, has disappeared from the radar for the last few months. Won said Kim is not in Macau, where he had previously been living a playboy life.

      Won declined to comment on media reports that North Korean security raided Kim Jong-nam's home in Pyongyang.

      The NIS chief was also grilled about a bizarre story involving an ostensible transcript of a secret conversation between Kim Jong-il and former president Roh Moo-hyun, in 2007, which suggested that Roh was willing to redraw the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas.

      Won was asked if the NIS has the audio recording which a South Korean lawmaker claims to have obtained from North Korean officials. He said to his knowledge no such record exists.

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