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Inside story of Metropolitan Police’s arrest of North Korean spy

(Facta: March 2016 – p. 89)

 

 On Feb. 7, North Korea was in great excitement over its “successful launching of an earth observation satellite.” Just two days before that, North Korea’s official in charge of espionage against the ROK in Japan was arrested by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) Public Security Bureau. This would seem to be a major catch in a long while. So, was this indeed a remarkable feat by the police authorities?

 

 Pak Chae Hun, 49, former vice dean of the faculty of business administration at the Korea University, was arrested on charges of the “petty crime” of using a credit card with a false name in 2012 to purchase computer accessories. It appears that after a Kantei (Prime Minister’s Official Residence) source learned about the rocket launch, he ordered Pak’s arrest on any kind of pretext. It is rumored that the purpose of this investigation was to “uncover North Korea’s espionage operations against the ROK in Japan to put pressure on the DPRK.” The Japanese authorities believe that Pak works for North Korea’s former “Bureau 225” as the head of covert operations against the ROK.

 

 “Bureau 225” is an office under the North Korean cabinet which used to direct espionage activities in Asia. It supervised the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) but was later absorbed by the Workers’ Party of Korea’s United Front Department.

 

 While serving as vice dean at the Korea University, Pak was also the vice chairman of the Korean Association of Social Scientists in Japan under Chongryon. According to an investigation source, “Pak was recruited by Kang Chu-il, head of Bureau 225, around 2000 to take charge of spying activities against the ROK to gather information on South Korean politicians, recruit spies, and engage in anti-government activities.”

 

 This investigation source said that “clicking on the eye of a certain portrait in the USB seized from him revealed encoded top secret orders from Bureau 225.”

 

 This sounds like a story from a British spy novel. However, this may not necessarily be true. A South Korean who used to work for the ROK intelligence agency, National Security Service, and who was a counselor at the ROK embassy in Japan was skeptical. He said: “Pak is a small potato who was just in contact in Japan with South Koreans convicted of violating the National Security Law. This must have been a show put up by the MPD under pressure from Prime Minister Abe.”

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