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'Know only what you need to know'

Posted November. 29, 2017 08:50,   

Updated November. 29, 2017 09:12

한국어

The James Bond film series is based on the fictional character of Britain's secret intelligence service MI6. The good-looking agent works under the false name of James Bond with his code number “007,” and remains as a secret figure even to the head of M16. This shows the ironclad principle of any intelligence agencies that their agents and activities should be kept in utmost secret, letting the outside world know only what it needs to know.

Recently, a ridiculously outrageous happening occurred in Korea under the pretense of rooting out corruptions at the National Intelligence Service. The members of the anti-corruption task force, mostly comprised of progressive professors, lawyers and heads of civic groups, reportedly looked into the main server of computers at the NIS without getting security clearance. They are known to have checked the escape of North Korean employees at the Ryukyung restaurant in China, digging into highly confidential materials that include the personal information of NIS agents and collaborators in China. They reportedly did take a look at the materials first, and later were given security clearance.

“I think an incident in which civilians could access the main server of NIS computers without due procedure should be dealt with more seriously than the arrest of two of the three former NIS chiefs,” said a former NIS chief, who did not want his name revealed, adding that he did not even try to know who were working as foreign agents when he was in office. If civilians were actually given access to the top secret of the intelligence agency, persons in charge should bear the responsibility as a consequence. The unnamed former NIS director also chose Kim Man-bok and Won Sei-hoon as the worst heads of the agency while seeing Kim who was ostentatious as a much more dangerous figure than Won who treated an intelligence agency as if it is the city of Seoul and received bribes. He clicked his tongue voicing his concern over why Kim went to North Korea the day before an election in 2007 and whether he carelessly disclosed confidential information to then North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.

In 2010, the NIS eavesdropped a phone call between the people of Osama bin Laden and a jeweler in Korea, and informed the intelligence agencies of the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The scope and amount of information being shared by intelligence agencies around the world are increasingly diversified beyond terrorism or drugs. Yet, they would spill secret information only to their fellow agencies that are reliable. Who would trust an intelligence agency whose confidentiality is often compromised? It would be the “failure of information” if the agency fails to protect itself from unexpected attacks. If the NIS is believed as unreliable and low-class by other agencies in the world, it would also mean a big hole in our national security system. Can the situation be more lamentable?