North Korea Spy Captured

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Sometimes I really miss my old job. Here is a hit and a miss for the South Korean intelligence community. The DPRK once again shows the world how to get the most bang for their buck when employing kidnapped South Koreans, Japanese and others used to train DPRK spy. This gives the job title “foreign language teacher” a whole new meaning doesn’t it?!

Seoul, South Korea: A North Korean woman accused of using ‘sex as a tool for her spy activity’ and plotting to assassinate South Korean intelligence agents with poisoned needles has been arrested, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

The suspect, identified as Won Jeong-hwa (pictured), 34, confessed after her July 15 arrest that she was a spy trained and commissioned by North Korea’s intelligence agency, prosecutors said in a statement.

She is the first alleged North Korean spy arrested in South Korea since 2006, and the second in a decade, the statement added.No trial date has been set for Won. But, for the time being she is in custody. But if she will be convicted, Won will have to face anywhere from seven years in prison to execution.

Won entered the South in 2001 after marrying a South Korean businessman in China, falsely reporting to authorities that she was a defector from the communist North, prosecutors said. She and her husband immediately divorced.

While in the South she gathered and passed classified information on to the North, including the locations of key military installations, lists of North Korean defectors and personal information on South Korean military officers, the statement said.

Prosecutors allege Won married a South Korean man and then began having affairs with officers to collect classified information about South Korea’s military installations and weapons systems, which she allegedly handed over to North Korean agents in China.

She dated a South Korean army captain and the officer cooperated with her, providing a list of North Korean defectors and destroying her faxed reports to the North’s spy agency. The captain, identified only by his surname Hwang, also was arrested, the statement said

The statement said Won often traveled to China to visit the Chinese office of the North’s spy agency, where she received instructions and money for her mission. Prosecutors said she received a total of $60,000 worth of cash and goods from the office.

Prosecutors said they believe there are more defectors who entered South Korea with the intention of spying, said Kim Kyeong-su, a spokesman for the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office

The two Koreas fought the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, which means the peninsula still remains technically at war.

Their relations had warmed significantly after the first-ever summit of their leaders in 2000, but chilled again this year after conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in February with a pledge to get tough on the North.

THE REST OF THE STORY

She arrived as a refugee, one of tens of thousands to flee the world’s most oppressive regime and, for seven years, Won Jeong Hwa was a model defector. She toured South Korean military bases to lecture on the evils of the homeland that she had escaped, the totalitarian Communist state of North Korea.

Ms Won had a secret however. According to a confession made to South Korean police, she was a spy who seduced the military officers she met, and plotted assassinations with poisoned needles. Now she faces execution for treason in a case reminiscent of the most tense days of the Cold War.

Prosecutors in the city of Suwon described how Ms Won allegedly slipped through security checks carried out on all would-be defectors, raising questions about how many more spies might have entered South Korea.

“We merely suspected that there might be spies mixed in with North Korean defectors during the reconciliatory mood of the past ten years, and had no evidence,” Kim Kyeong Su, the senior prosecutor, said. “The suspicions have turned into reality.”

According to Mr Kim, Ms Won, 35, was a convicted thief who feared execution in North Korea after being caught stealing several tonnes of zinc. She fled to China, a common place of transit for North Koreans seeking to escape oppression, personal trouble and economic hardship at home — but she eventually returned to the North to become a spy in 1998.

Her first assignment was to identify and send back home — to certain imprisonment or death – fellow countrymen in China who were trying to defect to the South. She arrived in South Korea in 2001 and, after the lengthy debriefing to which Seoul submits all defectors, she was given the job of delivering anticommunist lectures at military bases.

She used these occasions to befriend and seduce military officers in an attempt to extract classified information from them.

According to the prosecution only one complied — Captain Hwang, 26, who has also been arrested. She is alleged to have passed back to the North information about the location of military installations, lists of North Korean defectors and personal data about South Korean military officers.

“She used sex as a tool for her spy activity,” a statement by the Suwon prosecutors’ office said.

Ms Won travelled regularly to China to liaise with her spymasters, who provided her with equipment worth $60,000 (£32,000), including poisoned needles with which to assassinate intelligence agents from South Korea — although this plan was never put into effect.

Ms Won was arrested finally in July along with her foster father, a 63-year-old named only as Mr Kim, who was suspected of abetting her espionage.

According to Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, the inquiry is likely to expand to examine other North Korean defectors. No trial date has been set for Ms Won who, if convicted, faces a sentence ranging from seven years in prison to execution.

Honey traps

— More than 6,000 women worked for British intelligence between 1909 and the end of the First World War

— The jazz singer Josephine Baker helped the French Resistance by smuggling secrets written in invisible ink on her sheet music during the Second World War

—The exotic dancer Gertrud Margarete Zelle, better known as the Mata Hari, was shot by the French in 1917 for handing information to German officials

—Melissa Mahle joined the CIA as an operations officer in 1988, serving five tours in the Arab world, running clandestine operations and recruiting agents. She left in 2002 to write her memoirs

Source: Times archive

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