Former National Security Advisor Suh Hoon has flatly denied allegations that he abused his authority to cover up the 2020 killing of a fisheries official by North Korea near the Yellow Sea border.
Suh’s lawyer said during the case’s first hearing on Friday that the former security chief did not and could not have covered up the death of the official, named Lee Dae-jun.
According to his lawyer, a cover-up was impossible because hundreds of people in the National Intelligence Service(NIS) and the National Security Office knew about the incident and President Moon Jae-in had also been briefed on it.
The lawyer also dismissed allegations that Suh’s office had sought to make it look like Lee was killed while attempting to defect to North Korea, saying the office had only sought to shed light on what happened by having agencies share their intelligence on the matter.
Meanwhile, during Friday’s hearing, former NIS chief Park Jie-won, former defense minister Suh Wook and former Coast Guard commissioner general Kim Hong-hee, who are also on trial, denied allegations of attempting to cover up Lee’s death.
On September 22, 2020, Lee was on duty near the inter-Korean maritime boundary in the West Sea when he was fatally shot by North Korean soldiers, who proceeded to burn his body.
The defense ministry and the Coast Guard under the Moon administration announced within days that Lee was killed while attempting to defect to the North, an assertion that was retracted in June of this year after President Yoon Suk Yeol’s inauguration in May.