Two South Koreans, including army man, arrested for spying for North Korea

South Korean police in capital Seoul said  on Friday (April 29) that two citizens of the country have been arrested for allegedly stealing military secrets for a suspected North Korean agent. The duo include a serving captain in South Korea’s army. The North Korean agent is suspected to have made payments in cryptocurrency in exchange for military secrets.

Nuclear armed North Korea is still technically at war with its southern neighbour. North Kora is known to operate an army of thousands of well-trained hackers who have attacked firms, institutions and researchers in South Korea and elsewhere.

However, this is the first case in which a South Korean civilian and an active military person have been caught trying to steal military secrets for a North Korean agent.

One of them is a 29-year-old army captain who allegedly passed login information for South Korea’s Joint Command & Control System — a crucial military-run internal communications network — to the suspected Pyongyang spy, Seoul authorities said.

The civilian is a 38-year-old businessman who runs virtual asset management firm. He is accused of giving the army captain a wristwatch that had a secret camera.

“The two men have been arrested on charges of violating the national security law,” an official at the Korean National Police Agency told AFP Friday.

Seoul police said the arrested businessman first met the Pyongyang spy in an online community about cryptocurrency around six years ago, and the trio had communicated only via secure messaging service Telegram.

Both were paid in cryptocurrency, the police said. The army captain received about 48 million won ($37,789) from the North Korean agent, while the 38-year-old businessman got around $600,000.

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“We will strictly respond to security criminals in accordance to laws and principles,” Seoul’s prosecution office said in a statement.