South Korean Spy Chief Kills Seoul's Domestic Spying Program
04:04 02.06.2017(updated 04:05 02.06.2017)
The new director of South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS), Suh Hoon, on Thursday ordered the immediate abolition of all domestic intelligence operations.
One of President Moon Jae-in's campaign pledges was to reform the spy agency, which has long been suspected of using its capabilities to interfere in domestic politics and to swing elections in favor of ruling elites.
Soon after his formal appointment as the NIS' new chief, Suh issued the order prohibiting the agency from intervening in domestic politics, saying that it is not an organization designed to protect any political power and that "a zero tolerance principle" will be applied to those who fail to follow the new directives.
"Following the order from the new director, the NIS immediately stopped all activities of officers gathering information on government ministries, organizations and agencies, as well as media companies," the agency said in a press release.
During his inauguration ceremony, 63-year-old Suh vowed to turn the NIS into a "completely different entity," and to make sure it focuses on overseas operations. He promised to establish a panel tasked with discussing the mid- and long-term development of the agency and strengthening its intelligence-gathering capabilities.
The new chief also told lawmakers at the National Assembly confirmation hearing that he would launch an investigation into the NIS' alleged smear campaign, in which a group of its officers allegedly posted online comments to sway the 2012 presidential election.
"Reform is always accompanied by pain," Moon said as he awarded an appointment certificate to Suh.
"But once the agency goes through that process, it will be reborn as an internationally well recognized agency."
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