North Korea's seductress spy sent to prison

Wed Oct 15, 2008 3:08am EDT
 
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By Jack Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean court on Wednesday convicted a North Korean woman defector charged with extracting state secrets from military officers in return for sexual favors and sentenced her to five years in jail, a court official said.

Won Jeong-hwa, 34, was arrested in August on suspicion of posing as a defector and sleeping with South Korean military officers in exchange for classified information on weapons systems and the locations of key military installations.

Dubbed Korea's Mata Hari by local media, Won was trained in the North to infiltrate the South's military and assassinate key figures with toxic chemicals, including North Korean defectors who have been critical of the communist state.

Her trial came as ties between the two Koreas have chilled after a new conservative president took office in the South in February and angered the North by saying he would stop what had once been a free flow of aid to the impoverished neighbor.

Won's lawyer said the five-year sentence was tougher than expected and he and his client are considering an appeal.

The Suwon District Court south of Seoul found her guilty of breaking the anti-communist National Security Law for stealing classified material, keeping a line of communication with the North and publicly showing banned materials that glorified Pyongyang's communist leaders, the court official said.

Prosecutors said Won would strike up relationships with soldiers in key positions, seduce them and ask them for military secrets in exchange for sexual favors.

Won, who had faced up to life in prison, had admitted in court to her guilt. She spoke in a soft voice at hearings and asked for leniency so that she can be reunited with the 7-year-old daughter she had with a businessman in China.   Continued...

 
<p>North Korean woman defector Won Jeong-hwa arrives at a court for her trial in Suwon, south of Seoul, October 15, 2008. A South Korean court on Wednesday convicted a North Korean woman defector charged with extracting state secrets from military officers in return for sexual favours and sentenced her to five years in jail, media said. Won, 34, was arrested in August on suspicion of posing as a defector and sleeping with South Korean military officers in exchange for classified information on weapons systems and the locations of key military installations. THE PICTURE WAS PIXELATED AT SOURCE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SOUTH KOREAN LAW REUTERS/Kim Dong-gyu/Yonhap</p>