North Korean spy confirmed for three-year jail term

October 15, 2014
Kim, Lee's husband, and (Yonhap)

Kim, Lee’s husband, and attorney Park Joon-young (Yonhap)

By Park Sojung

SEOUL (Yonhap) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday confirmed a three-year prison term for a female North Korean spy accused of entering the South while masquerading as a defector.

The North Korean woman, identified only by her surname Lee, was convicted of entering the South in December 2012 posing as a defector, violating the National Security Law.

The 39-year-old came here to monitor a defector carrying out anti-North Korean activities, prosecutors said, adding that Lee had used a special drug distributed by the North’s state security department to “erase her memory and cheat the lie detector” upon entering the country.

All North Koreans arriving in the South go through intensive questioning by the South Korean spy agency, which is tasked with telling secret agents apart from ordinary North Koreans.

Although Lee confessed to her espionage activities in a lower court trial, she later filed an appeal to revise her testimony, saying that she did not use any memory-erasing drug and that the South’s National Intelligence Service had coerced her confession.

The Supreme Court, however, said her previous confession to the crime was “justifiable, backed by evidence and thus reliable.” It also rejected the argument that her confession had been forced.

The verdict came as a surprise to Lee’s lawyer Park Joon-young, who had expected the top court to overturn the lower court’s ruling.

“There’s no drug that erases one’s memory anywhere in the world,” Park told reporters after the ruling. “It’s disappointing that the ruling was based on false confessions.”

“Spy cases are permanently kept in court records, so I hope history will later disprove her guilty verdict,” he added.