Korean Jailed in Iran for Spying

An Iranian court sentenced a Korean to seven years in prison for taking photos of security facilities. The Iranian government notified the Korean Foreign Ministry two months after the arrest.

Democratic Party lawmaker Park Byeong-seog on Monday said the 44-year-old man identified as Kim was arrested in October last year and sentenced to seven years in jail in September this year.

He was found guilty of spying on security facilities by taking photos of police stations, foreign embassies, military facilities, and border signs with the alleged purpose of delivering them to a foreign government. The court did not specify which foreign government he spied for.

The Foreign Ministry was informed by the Iranian authorities “75 days after he was arrested, and only nine months after the arrest did bureau chiefs from the two countries meet,” Park said during a parliamentary audit of the ministry. “A more senior official should start negotiations to win his release.”

A government official here said consular officials have met Kim seven times and a lawyer once.

Traveling around the Middle East, Kim entered Iran on a three-month tourist visa he had obtained in a nearby country in early October last year. He told consular officials he has no regular job but enjoys traveling to remote areas and taking photos.

He denied spying and insists he is an ordinary tourist.

Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se defended the ministry, saying it “called in the Iranian ambassador several times to ask for an early release for Kim and cooperation in helping retain a lawyer and giving him consular assistance.”

He added the ambassador promised to pass on the message to his government.