HEADLINES

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

South Korean Soldier Jailed in Spy Sex Scandal




A South Korean army officer who was caught in a honey trap set by a North Korean spy has been sentenced to three and a half years in a military prison.

The 27-year-old first lieutenant, identified only by the last name Hwang, was court-martialed on charges of assisting North Korean spy Won Jeong-hwa’s espionage operation and failing to notify the upper chain of command that he was aware of the spy’s identity.

Hwang was convicted on Tuesday, and Lim Choung-bin, the Army chief of staff, confirmed the decision yesterday.


Can Appeal


Hwang has a week to lodge an appeal.

The 34-year-old spy was indicted in April 2008 for a series of National Security Law violations, including using sex to extract confidential military information. The so-called “Korean Mata Hari” scandal rocked the nation, but North Korea said the espionage allegations against Won were a “complete fabrication by the South.”

Won, who identified herself later as an agent of the North’s Ministry of State Security, entered the South by posing as a defector in 2001. She slept with several South Korean military officers, including Hwang, to get confidential information.

Her other missions included planning to assassinate Hwang Jang-yop, former secretary of the North’s Workers’ Party and the highest North Korean official to defect to the South.

The spy was convicted last October and sentenced to five years in prison. She didn’t appeal.


Mysterious Disappearance

Won’s stepfather, Kim Dong-sun, 64, was also indicted last year on charges of posing as a defector and funding her espionage operation. His trial is currently ongoing, but unlike Won, Kim has denied most of the charges.

Meanwhile, Yonhap News Agency reported last week that the prosecution and intelligence authorities are searching for another of Kim’s stepdaughters. She disappeared during their investigation.

According to the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office, the woman is in her 30s and is a witness for their case against Kim. Prosecutors said the woman entered Korea with Kim in 2006 as a defector and accompanied him on trips to China in 2007 and 2008. Kim was found to have met with North Korean agents during those trips.

- By Ser Myo-ja