Presidential Archives raided again by prosecutors probing 2019 repatriation of 2 N.K. fishermen

August 19, 2022

 Prosecutors investigating the controversial repatriation of two North Korean fishermen during the preceding Moon Jae-in government raided the Presidential Archives on Friday to search for documents related to the case.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office sent about 10 prosecutors and investigators to the archives in the central administrative city of Sejong in the afternoon to look for clues in the repatriation case three years ago, according to judicial officials.

Prosecutors have been investigating the allegations that the Moon administration deported the two North Koreans back to the North in November 2019 against their will to defect to the South after accusing them of killing 16 fellow crew members.

Prosecutors are expected to selectively look into the records of the Moon administration’s decision-making process related to the repatriation case, the officials said.

Earlier on July 6, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) filed a complaint with the prosecution against former NIS chief Suh Hoon, alleging that he ordered an early end to an internal investigation into the fishermen who were sent back to the North on Nov. 7, 2019, after being captured near the eastern inter-Korean sea border a week earlier.

Chung Eui-yong and Kim Yeon-chul, who formerly served as the director of the National Security Office and the unification minister, respectively, during the Moon administration, have also been under investigation on abuse of power and other charges after being sued by civic groups.

Just before the repatriation, the justice ministry reviewed its legality and found no legal grounds to send the North Koreans back to the North, the ministry said recently.

Judicial officials speculate that Suh, Chung, Kim and other Moon government officials suspected of being involved in the repatriation may soon be summoned to the prosecution to face questioning.

Earlier on Friday, the Presidential Archives was raided by prosecutors from the Daejeon District Prosecutors Office, investigating possible illegalities in the Moon government’s controversial decision in 2019 to close an aging nuclear reactor ahead of its legal expiration date.

The prosecution has raided the Presidential Archives nine times so far, including the two times Friday.

All records of the Moon presidency were transferred to the archives on May 9 in time for his retirement.

In principle, access to the archives’ presidential records is restricted for a maximum of 15 years but can be permitted with an approval by more than two-thirds of the National Assembly or by an appellate court. Friday’s raid was reportedly approved by the Seoul High Court.

Prosecutors enter the Presidential Archives in the central administrative city of Sejong on Aug. 19, 2022, prior to their raid on the agency. (Yonhap)

Prosecutors enter the Presidential Archives in the central administrative city of Sejong on Aug. 19, 2022, prior to their raid on the agency. (Yonhap)