Jefferson Morley | June 25, 2020
Moon Looking for New Spy Chief to Advance Inter-Korean Diplomacy
From the Seoul daily The Hankyoreh comes the latest from the Blue House, as South Korea’s presidential residence is known.
President Moon Jae-in, responding to belligerent moves by North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, plans to shake up his national security team.
“It’s not a matter of ‘whether or not’ to replace the foreign affairs and national security lineup, but one of ‘when and with whom,’” a Blue House senior official said on June 24. This indicates plans to demonstrate the commitment to improving inter-Korean relations with a full-scale shakeup including not only the position of the unification minister — recently vacated by Kim Yeon-chul — but also those of National Intelligence Service (NIS) director and Blue House National Security Office director.
The current chief of the National Intelligence Service is Suh Hoon. Under his leadership, the NIS has shot down rumors that Kim Jong-un was terminally ill, and supported Moon’s efforts to reunify the Koreas.
Moon, a liberal elected in 2017, has sought to depoliticize the agency, which has a long history of being aligned with his conservative predecessor, Park Geun-hye.
In June 2018 three former NIS directors (Lee Byung-kee, Lee Byung-ho, and Nam Jae-joon) who served in the Park administration were found guilty of bribery, related to the 2016 Park Geun-hye scandals. They illegally transferred money from the NIS budget to Park’s presidential office without any approval or oversight from the National Assembly. This illegally obtained money was used by Park and her associates for private use and to pay bribes.