Fri, Jul 09, 2010 - Page 5 News List

S Korea opts not to prosecute spy

AFP , SEOUL

South Korean prosecutors will not charge a woman forced to spy for North Korea because she is in poor health and cooperated with investigators, a spokesman said.

The 36-year-old identified only as Kim was arrested in May for allegedly obtaining classified information on Seoul’s subway system from a male employee in return for providing him with sexual services.

Her arrest came eight months after she entered South Korea via China and Laos in the guise of a defector.

The subway employee, who first met Kim online when she was operating a travel agency in China in 2006 and 2007, has been charged with espionage.

“Prosecution authorities have decided not to indict Kim as she has clearly expressed her intention to shift loyalty to the South and she was in poor health,” the Seoul central district prosecution office spokesman said.

She needs a liver transplant, he said.

Authorities also took into account the fact that she was forced into espionage to avoid punishment for losing her communist party membership card on a train in 1997 in North Korea.

“She became disillusioned with the North after she arrived in the South,” a prosecution source was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency. “We expect her to cooperate well not only in her own case but in other spy cases as well.”

Spies can in theory face the death sentence but are sometimes treated leniently if they renounce the North’s regime and cooperate.

A court last week passed 10-year prison sentences on two North Korean agents who posed as fugitives from the communist state in a bid to assassinate a top-ranking defector.

The sentence was less than prosecutors had sought. The judge said he took their cooperation into account.

A female North Korean agent who bombed a South Korean airliner in 1987 with the loss of 115 lives was sentenced to death but later pardoned. She married and settled in the South, and has spoken out against the Pyongyang regime.

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