NIS Agent Found Dead with Handwritten Note with Matters of ‘National Interest’
kpopluv, July 18, 2015, 9:12 a.m.
An employee of South Korea's spy agency has been found dead in his car with his will, which alludes to a covert hacking program that has triggered a controversy in the country, police said Saturday.
Police said that the person identified only by his family name Lim worked for the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and was discovered around noon on a mountain road in Yongin, south of Seoul. Investigators present at the site said there was a burnt coal inside the car and no sign of forced entry or any suspicious marks on his body, making it likely that the 45-year-old took his own life.
They also said he left a three-page, handwritten will on the front passenger seat that expressed his feelings about family, parents and work, which included matters of "national interest." Police said they could not release more details about the will because relatives were opposed to the contents becoming public. It added that information about the funeral arrangements are being withheld at the request of the next of kin.
A family member reported his disappearance around 10 a.m. after Lim left home some five hours earlier and could not be contacted, authorities said. They said the fire department tracked his cellphone signal to find his exact location. The apparent suicide and the will are expected to further stoke the controversy surrounding where and how the NIS used the hacking program it bought from an Italian company in 2012.
Related to the contents of the will, a government insider, who declined to be identified, verified that Lim mentioned the hacking program. "The spy agency has already been notified about what was written in the will," the source said. An NIS official said the deceased was dedicated to his job and his death is a loss to the agency. He, however, did not confirm or deny that Lim worked in a post that gave him access to hacking operations.
The NIS so far said the software program, which uses Remote Control System technology, allows hackers to manipulate and track smartphones and computers by installing spyware. It said the system can be used to hack 20 mobile phones simultaneously, making it ideal for eavesdropping.
The NIS emphasized that it used the program for the purpose of strengthening cyber warfare capabilities against Pyongyang and only against people living outside the country that have ties with the reclusive, communist country. Such explanations, however, are met with skepticism by many in the country, and in particular, the main opposition party, which thinks the NIS used the program to spy on South Korean civilians.
The spy agency countered that while the information about the hacking is classified, it will show the usage records of the controversial hacking program to lawmakers to alleviate concerns that clandestine operations were carried out on locals.