New S. Korean intelligence chief secretly negotiated controversial summit with Kim Jong-Il

by WorldTribune Staff, May 11, 2017

Suh Hoon, named as South Korean President-elect Moon Jae-In’s intelligence chief, played a key role in arranging summit talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il in 2000 and 2007.

Suh “is widely seen as aimed at backing up the new leader’s bid to improve long-strained inter-Korean ties,” Yonhap news agency reported on May 10.

Suh Hoon worked at Seoul’s spy agency for 28 years until leaving in 2008. /Reuters

The 63-year-old Suh secretly negotiated with North Korea in preparing for the landmark summits held in June 2000 and October 2007. He is also known as the South Korean official who met most frequently with Kim Jong-Il.

According to the Yonhap report, Suh resided in North Korea for two years, beginning in 1997, as a head of the field office of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), “during which he learned how to negotiate with North Korean officials.”

KEDO was set up to implement a 1994 deal with North Korea under which Pyongyang said it would freeze and ultimately dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for energy-producing light water reactors and other concessions from the U.S. and other partners.

After returning from North Korea, Suh was involved in making secret contact with the North for summit talks in 2000 between then-President Kim Dae-Jung and Kim Jong-Il.

During the administration of former President Roh Moo-Hyun, Suh accompanied then-spy chief Kim Man-Bok in visiting North Korea to prepare for a summit in 2007, the Yonhap report said.

Suh joined Seoul’s spy agency in 1980 and served as a deputy director of the National Intelligence Service in 2006-2008. Since then, he has worked as a visiting professor on North Korean studies at Ewha Womans University.

Excerpts from a book by WorldTribune and Geostrategy-Direct columnist Donald Kirk and the Korean author Kim Ki-Sam detailed “How South Korea’s Kim Dae-Jung bought his Peace Prize and financed Kim Jong-Il’s nuclear program”:

In an article published by the International Herald Tribune (IHT) on Jan. 31, 2001, Kirk revealed the transfer of several hundred million dollars to persuade Kim Jong- Il to agree to receive DJ in Pyongyang in June 2000.

The article, which Kirk wrote at the request of IHT editor David Ignatius, focused on Lim Dong- Won as the central operative in forming DJ’s sunshine policy of reconciliation.

“The South Korean Spy Chief Who Paved the Way for Thaw with North,” ran the headline across the top of page two of the IHT. The spy chief in question was Lim Dong-Won, whom DJ had appointed as director of the NIS in order to bring about the Summit and also to promote his campaign for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Although the payoff remains unconfirmed,” Kirk wrote, “it was believed that it was necessary in a society where bribery, often in the guise of gift giving, is a longstanding tradition in both Koreas.”

The mere mention of a huge financial transfer to North Korea was deeply upsetting to Korean officials. A Blue House spokesman said menacingly, “We take extra care when dealing with inaccurate and misleading articles appearing [in] foreign mass media because they are guests,” but the IHT article “went too far” and “we are considering all options.”

The local media saw the case as a test of “how far the government is willing to go in order to correct what it thinks are wrong reports in foreign press.”