Seoul: China is getting tougher with
South Korean spies caught collecting intelligence there on North Korea, jailing one of them for more than a year despite pleas from Seoul, news reports said Tuesday.
The army major had been trying to collect information
on the North`s nuclear and missile programmes when he was
caught in July last year in a sting operation, Yonhap news
agency and the Korea JoongAng Daily said.
A defence ministry spokesman declined to comment.
The newspaper said the man it identified as Major Cho
was arrested in the northeastern Chinese city of Shenyang
following a rendezvous with a Chinese military officer posing
as an informant.
Cho gave tens of thousands of dollars to the Chinese
officer for information about the North`s nuclear development
and missiles, it said. He was jailed for 14 months despite the
South`s request that he be repatriated.
A captured agent is usually released and repatriated
after his home country promises in writing to prevent a
recurrence, the Korea Joongang Daily said.
Cho`s imprisonment also caused unrest among South
Korean intelligence agents because he was repatriated along
with South Korean criminals who had been arrested for robbery
or fraud, it said.
The paper quoted intelligence officials as saying Cho
may have been treated more toughly than normal because he was
arrested at a sensitive time, just after the North`s second
nuclear test in May 2009.
China is the North`s sole major ally and economic