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Prosecutors probe military leak

June 06,2018
Two former officers of the Korea Defense Intelligence Command, in charge of intelligence gathering at the military, are under investigation for selling about 100 military secrets, including a list of Korean agents currently active overseas. The leak prompted the military to hurriedly summon the operatives back to Korea.

An investigative team at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said on Monday that they had taken two former officers of the intelligence command, surnamed Hwang and Hong, into custody for questioning.

Hwang allegedly stole the information by taking pictures of them with his smartphone when he served as head of the Korea Defense Intelligence Command’s secret operations team between 2013 and April this year. He then sold the classified information to Hong, his predecessor.

Hong, according to prosecutors, then sold the information to agents of two countries for tens of millions of won, about tens of thousands of dollars. Prosecutors did not reveal the names of the countries but said the information handed over to one of the them contained especially sensitive information about Korean agents active in that country. The other country received information that the command had collected about the weapons systems and plans of major powers like the United States, China and Russia.

According to prosecutors, the military only detected the leaks in April this year through a tip from the National Intelligence Service. It did not conduct any internal investigations until a month after it was notified.

The military then fired Hwang and asked prosecutors to investigate. One of the suspected recipients of the leaked information, a diplomat stationed in Korea, has returned to his home country, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors believe Hwang may have leaked even more information.

“There will also be investigations of why the military was not keener in taking initial action,” one prosecutor said.

BY CHUNG JIN-WOO [enational@joongang.co.kr]