The National Intelligence Service's (NIS) truth commission has concluded as part of its inquiry into the disappearance of Kim Hyung Wook that Kim Jae Kyu, then head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), ordered that killers be hired to murder him in France. There have been all sorts of rumors for years, including that he was killed for political revenge and that he had been killed after being forcibly taken back to Korea, but now things have begun to come together. But in fact even this information from NIS leaves you wondering as to whether it is the whole truth.
What the case shows you is that a state intelligence organization was run at the will of a dictatorial regime instead of in accordance with the law. His kidnapping and murder without trial was just like methods employed by organized crime. Because of the needs of the regime the organization cared nothing for another country's sovereignty, diplomatic relations, or the rest of Korea's international standing and the national interest. You are reminded of all the atrocities committed to maintain the military dictatorship of Park Chung Hee, including the attempt on the life of Kim Dae Jung, death by torture of professor Tsche Chong Kil, and the "judicial murder" in the "People's Revolutionary Party" case.
You cannot say that the case of Kim Hyung Wook has been revealed in its entirety. It is hard to believe the explanation that the KCIA did what it did alone just to protect itself. The KCIA was a subordinate organization under Park, the direct events leading up to what happened were that Kim published a memoir discussing intimate details about the regime and that he testified about them before a United States House of Representatives committee, and furthermore Park on many occasions displayed rage and a sense of betrayal. There needs to be clarification about whether Park issued a direct order or not. There was much controversy over whether the KCIA took action on its own in 1973 when it kidnapped Kim Dae Jung, so it would be a lot to think that it could have done something like that later on its own.
It is shameful that such barbarism remains unclarified a quarter century later. The NIS is to be complimented for working to find the truth, however late in coming. There is no future without truly dealing with the past. We hope that those involved would come out and confess for the greater good.
The Hankyoreh, 27 May 2005.
[Translations by Seoul Selection (PMS)]