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Korea's spy agency lays out self-reform measures to parliament

Updated: 2013-12-13 (KST)
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National Intelligence Service chief Nam Jae-joon on Thursday presented his agency's plan to reform itself to lawmakers.
The spy agency stands accused of launching an online smear campaign targeting opposition candidates in the run-up to last year's presidential election.
The reform proposal submitted by the NIS would scrap a system that gives NIS agents unbridled access to the National Assembly, political parties and media outlets.
The plan also includes setting up a center that will handle employee complaints of unjust or inappropriate orders from superiors that could force them to intervene in politics.
Whether the complaints are legitimate would be determined by a special panel that would be led by two prosecutors dispatched from outside the agency.
Under the plan, all NIS agents and new recruits would be required to take an oath to not intervene in politics during their tenure.
The proposal also calls for the establishment of codes that clearly define the scope of its psychological warfare campaign against North Korea.
The ruling party has given out a rather positive review of the spy agency's proposal, saying that it presents a clear guideline to keep agents from intervening in politics.

"The reform proposal shows the spy agency's endeavors to overhaul itself. My party will work with the opposition party to complement that proposal."

However, the main opposition party criticized the plan, saying that it does not discuss core issues, such as toughening the parliament's control over the agency's budget.

"The NIS chief said no intelligence agencies of advanced nations disclose their budgets. But my party lawmakers don't believe that's correct. We need to fact-check and further discuss the issue."

"Next week, the committee will hold public hearings to gather experts' views on how to reform the spy agency and then it will start deliberations on how the NIS law and the law on public officials should be revised in order to carry out the necessary reforms.
Kim Yeon-ji, Arirang News."

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