Moon’s former defence minister is wanted for arrest in North Korea

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Arrest sought of Moon’s ex-defense chief in North Korea killing

Moon’s former defence director is wanted for questioning in the murder of a South Korean official by North Korea.

The killing of South Korean fisheries official Lee Dae-jun by North Korean forces two years ago is the subject of an inquiry, and Seoul prosecutors on Tuesday sought an arrest warrant for former heads of the national defence and marine police.

Seo Wook, who served as the minister of national defence during the Moon Jae-in government, is accused of abuse of power, forging documents, and destroying electronic information related to a public office, according to a message sent to reporters by the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office.
Seo ordered the deletion of some 60 military intelligence reports in the early hours of September 23, 2020, right after learning of Lee’s recent death at a meeting convened by Cheong Wa Dae at one in the morning, according to the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea’s report from October 14.

The BAI claimed that Seo ordered a representative in charge of the military intelligence management system to come in and remove the reports.

Kim Hong-hee, who led the search efforts and the ensuing investigations as the commissioner of the Coast Guard Korea, is also accused of abusing his position of authority and fabricating official documents.

He is allegedly suspected by the BAI of concealing information that would appear to refute the coast guard’s claim that Lee was defecting to North Korea.
According to the BAI in the same report, the Coast Guard misrepresented Lee as a defector from North Korea in its press briefings by using unreliable evidence and tales about his private life, such as his financial situation, for which his family filed a lawsuit, and by withholding information about the nation.

For instance, the Coast Guard withheld the results of internal interviews in which Lee’s crew members claimed they didn’t think Lee was trying to flee to North Korea.

According to the BAI in the same report, the Coast Guard misrepresented Lee as a defector from North Korea in its press briefings by using unreliable evidence and tales about his private life, such as his financial situation, for which his family filed a lawsuit, and by withholding information about the nation.

For instance, the Coast Guard withheld the results of internal interviews in which Lee’s crew members claimed they didn’t think Lee was trying to flee to North Korea.

The fact that Lee was wearing a foreign life jacket other than one issued by the fisheries ministry when North Korean forces discovered him was also unknown until the BAI investigation, implying that he did not abandon the ship freely. The Coast Guard was aware of this, but did not disclose it.
In the events leading up to and following Lee’s death, South Korean officials may have handled matters improperly, according to prosecutors. After the maritime and military authorities said there was no evidence to support their earlier determination that Lee was a North Korean defector, the investigations got under way in July.

The seriousness of the criminal suspicions against Seo and Kim, according to the prosecution, and worries that they would tamper with the evidence led them to decide to ask for arrest warrants. Last week, both were asked to appear for interrogation.
The Tuesday arrest warrant demands might only be the start of larger investigations. According to the most recent findings of the BAI, the Defense Ministry and maritime police’s public statements that Lee’s case was an attempted defection to North Korea were arranged by Cheong Wa Dae’s Office of National Security. The Cheong Wa Dae administration reportedly asked the two institutions to answer with “one voice,” according to the BAI.

According to what has been revealed thus far, Kim Ki-yun, the attorney for Lee’s family, told The Korea Herald over the phone that he thought it was “beyond warranted” that the senior officials who were in control would be detained.
That the national defence minister expunged the relevant intelligence reports just hours after a citizen was killed by North Korean soldiers is utterly reprehensible, in my opinion, he said.

Suh Hoon and Park Jie-hoon, who were the then-directors of the National Intelligence Service and the Office of National Security, respectively, are among individuals accused of playing a crucial part in the alleged cover-up, according to investigations in related cases.