A naturalised New Zealander has been arrested in South Korea on suspicion of spying for North Korea after secretly being filmed meeting with an agent from that country.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported a 56-year-old man and a 74-year-old man were arrested in early May on charges of collecting military intelligence for North Korea.
The Chosun Llbo, one of South Korea’s largest newspapers, reported that one of these men known only as “Kim” is a Korean-born New Zealand citizen. The other man is known as “Lee”.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokeswoman confirmed a New Zealander has been arrested in South Korea and that consular assistance has been offered to the man.
A police statement issued to Yonhap said the two men had been arrested for allegedly taking instruction from a North Korean agent while in the Chinese city of Dandong, along the North Korean border, in July last year.
Police say they have footage of the pair meeting with the agent and a statement from “Kim” saying he had received an order from North Korea, Chosun Llbo reported.
It’s also alleged one of the men passed equipment capable of disturbing Global Positioning System (GPS) signals and intelligence on high-tech military equipment to the other accused.
It was not immediately clear whether the equipment and information was passed to the North Korean agent, Yonhap reported.
The 74-year-old was reportedly sentenced to life in prison on a separate espionage charge in 1972, though he was released on parole in 1990.
Still, he retains his allegiance to North Korea, according to the police statement issued to Yonhap.
The arrest of the alleged spies coincided with North Korea’s jamming of GPS signals, a satellite-based navigation system widely used by planes, ships and the military as well as in vehicles.