By Lee Hyo-sik
The prosecution is investigating 13 individuals on suspicions that they established an anti-state organization here following an order from North Korea.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said Monday that investigators have been looking into businessmen, opposition party members, labor rights activists, scholars and other individuals, who are suspected of having set up an underground political party to promote the North’s propaganda.
The prosecution suspects they formed the organization under instructions from a division of North Korea Workers’ Party, which sends operatives to the South, manages a group of resident spies and organizes espionage operations here.
Investigators searched offices and homes of the 13 from July 4 to 6. Among the accused, a businessman, named Kim, was arrested Friday on charges of violating the National Security Law.
Since April 1994, Kim, who runs a small firm in Seoul, has traveled back and forth between Korea, and Japan and China numerous times. While abroad, he met with North Korean officials and agents operating in the two neighboring countries, prosecutors said.
Additionally, investigators raided the home and office of a senior official, surnamed Hong, at the Korea Higher Education Research Institute Saturday, after securing evidence that he was involved with the anti-state group.
But civic groups and opposition parties have begun protesting the latest search and seizure, claiming law enforcement authorities are cracking down on those who campaign to have university tuition be slashed by half.
“We did not know Hong was involved with the half-tuition movement. It is not true that we targeted Hong because he campaigned against government policies. The government and the ruling party are also trying to introduce measures to reduce university tuition,” a prosecution official said.