The Hankyoreh penned a decent editorial today on why the Lee Seok-ki case ironically demonstrates the need to reform the NIS.
For starters, it shows why the NIS should not be granted investigative powers. The reason usually stated for giving it investigative power is its specialized investigative capacity at a time of intra-Korean confrontation. Nothing about the Lee case, however, reveals a special investigative capacity—they got a tip from an informant. Moreover, the NIS has been busy making unreasonable applications of the law, irresponsibly making public facts about the crime (Marmot’s note: as opposed to irresponsibly reporting personal info about the informant?) and playing media games to influence public opinion. Or so says the Hankyoreh. Anyway, a good first step to NIS reform would be to make a clear divide between intelligence gathering (which the spooks do) and investigating (which the prosecutors/police do), a practice common in much of the world.
The case also demonstrated the greater need for public oversight and checks on the NIS.
Now that the ugly business of the Lee arrest is finished, perhaps the National Assembly will finally get back to the business of reforming the NIS to make it more accountable and democratic. That said, it appears some folk—and some newspapers—are more concerned with eradicating the UPP. Mind you, I think the UPP’s presence in the National Assembly is unsettling—the Dong-A Ilbo reports that the six UPP lawmakers have been strangely active in requesting materials from the Ministry of Defense, something I really hope USFK and US officials are aware of—but it seems at this stage, we really need to refocus on cleaning up the intelligence service.