Korean lawmaker under probe over alleged armed revolt plot

SOUTH KOREA - South Korea's National Intelligence Service on Wednesday raided the office and home of the Unified Progressive Party's Rep. Lee Seok-ki, and detained three of his associates on charges of laying out a preliminary plot for a revolt.

The arrested individuals are Hong Soon-seok, Han Dong-geun and Lee Sang-ho. Hong is the deputy chief of the UPP's Gyeonggi Province branch while Han had served as the chief of the party's Suwon office.

Lee Sang-ho is an adviser at a progressive group based in Gyeonggi Province.

The NIS also raided the homes and offices of six others involved in left-wing political and labour movements including those of former UPP spokesperson Woo Wi-young.

Homes and offices of the UPP's Gyeonggi Province branch chief Kim Hong-yeol and Korean Federation of labour Unions' Goyang-Paju office chief Lee Young-choon were among the 18 locations the NIS raided.

Goyang and Paju are cities located in northern Gyeonggi Province.

Lee is accused of violating the National Security Act and of involvement in forming a revolt plot, which allegedly included plans to take armed action.

Lee was not present at his office when the raid took place. Ahead of the raid, Lee's aides are alleged to have shredded documents of unknown content.

The NIS is said to have secured recordings of Lee speaking at a meeting of the East Gyeonggi Coalition, the mainstream faction of the UPP.

Lee is alleged to have told the attendants to "raid armouries and police stations to help North Korea," and to "secure firearms in case of an emergency."

The NIS suspects that Lee was involved in related matters since 2004 and that between 100 and 200 individuals are involved in the plot.

The UPP accused the government of attempting to bury the case regarding alleged irregularities in last year's presidential election.

"As the truths about the rigged election are uncovered, Cheong Wa Dae and the NIS, which is on the brink of being dismantled, is using the Yushin era method of pro-communism framing in the 21st century," UPP chairwoman Lee Jung-hee said.

Yushin refers to the Yushin Constitution that was introduced in 1972 that was design to allow late President Park Chung-hee to extend his term. Park, who was assassinated in 1979 after holding power for 18 years, was President Park Geun-hye's father.

"This will not end as an act of oppression against the UPP. As they branded all opposition supporters as being pro-North Korea, it is an attempt to remove all democratic forces."

The presidential office, which has been accused of being behind the developments, has remained quiet on the issue with senior press secretary Lee Jung-hyun saying that he found out from news reports.

"If the reports are true, it is an astounding case," Lee told reporters, adding that he found the situation hard to believe. Regarding President Park's response, Lee only said that she is likely to have been briefed on the issue considering the gravity of the accusations.