A North Korean woman accused of using sex to elicit sensitive information from a South Korean military officer was sentenced yesterday by a court south of Seoul to five years in prison for spying.
Won Jeong-hwa, 34, was arrested in July on charges of passing classified information to the North, including the locations of key military installations, lists of North Korean defectors and personal information on South Korean military officers.
Prosecutors alleged Won used “sex as a tool” for her mission, dating a South Korean army officer and making him work for her.
Investigators also said she plotted to assassinate South Korean agents with poisoned needles, but did not carry out the plan.
The Suwon District Court found Won guilty of all charges and accepted a prosecutors’ demand that she be sentenced to five years in prison, said Judge Lim Min-sung, who serves as a court spokesman.
“The defendant approached soldiers and intelligence agents through the medium of sex and carried out secret espionage activities for a long time using her [purported] status as a defector,” the court said in the ruling, according to Lim.
In issuing its sentence the court also took into consideration that the information she sent to the North did not pose serious threats to the country’s security and that she has repented and cooperated with the investigation, Lim said.
In an earlier hearing, Won submitted a written statement to the court, admitting to the charges against her and offering repentance for her past activities as a spy.
Spying for the North is a crime in the South that carries the death penalty as a maximum sentence.
Won is the second North Korean convicted on spy charges in the South in a decade.
She entered the South in 2001 after marrying a South Korean businessman in China, falsely reporting to authorities that she was a defector from the North.
The details in the charges against Won have drawn keen media attention, with some newspapers calling her a “Mata Hari,” the notorious dancer-turned-World War I spy.
Meanwhile, Pyongyang allowed UN monitors back onto its main nuclear site in a step toward fulfilling a pledge to disable the complex under a disarmament pact salvaged by a breakthrough deal with the US.
A diplomat in Vienna familiar with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) work at the site said that the agency’s three-member team had resumed monitoring the site on Tuesday, including reapplying seals the North had ordered taken off and remounting IAEA cameras.
He demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly.