Ex-security command chief urged to return from US for probe

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Ex-security command chief urged to return from US for probe

By Lee Min-hyung

Cho Hyun-chun, former chief of Defense Security Command
A military-civilian joint team investigating a possible coup plot has urged former Defense Security Command (DSC) chief Cho Hyun-chun to return to Korea voluntarily or it will take measures to force him to return.

The warning came as Cho, who is in the United States, refuses to comply with any requests from the special investigation team. He is suspected of ordering his staff to draw up a contingency plan to declare martial law last year.

Sources from the team said Friday they are trying to persuade Cho's legal agents to get him to return to Korea to respond to allegations he faces surrounding the military scandal.

As a former chief of the military intelligence unit, Cho allegedly instructed a DSC taskforce to lay out the controversial 67-page document and reported it to then Defense Minister Han Min-koo in February last year.

Under the document, Cho planned to take on the role to command and control the military police after a planned declaration of martial law if the Constitutional Court rejected President Park Geun-hye's impeachment.

The plan was apparently drawn up as part of a countermeasure to quell by force pro-democracy candlelit protesters who demanded Park's ouster. Park is now in jail for bribery and a series of corruption charges.

With the scandal drawing nationwide outrage, the Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Justice formed a joint probe team last month to discover who masterminded the plot.

Last week, the team searched the homes of Han and Cho to secure evidence related to the scandal. The investigators are known to have searched Cho's empty home here, as the former DSC chief and members of his family remain in the U.S.

The scandal-tainted DSC is on track for disbandment, and the defense ministry plans to launch a new organization as of Sept. 1.

President Moon Jae-in made the decision to reorganize the unit in a way to prevent it from abusing its long-lasting authority to engage in political affairs. Starting this month, the military began work to downsize the new organization and carry out a drastic reshuffle to prevent a recurrence of such an incident.

Earlier this week, the President named Lieutenant General Nam Young-sin as the new chief of the military intelligence unit.

Nam pledged to do his best to normalize the function of the unit as soon as possible by implementing measures to streamline the organization and modify military laws.

Skeptic voices

Despite the military's ongoing pledge to launch a "totally new" intelligence unit, skeptics are surfacing.

Lim Tae-hoon, chief of the Center for Military Human Rights, said Friday it is impossible for the military to conduct the drastic reform despite the initiation of the new unit.

"A preparation committee to establish the new Defense Security Support Command consists of staff all from the DSC," Lim said. This is nothing more than an extension of military abuse, according Lim, who called for the need to form a new intelligence unit with non-DSC personnel.


By Lee Min-hyung

Cho Hyun-chun, former chief of Defense Security Command
A military-civilian joint team investigating a possible coup plot has urged former Defense Security Command (DSC) chief Cho Hyun-chun to return to Korea voluntarily or it will take measures to force him to return.

The warning came as Cho, who is in the United States, refuses to comply with any requests from the special investigation team. He is suspected of ordering his staff to draw up a contingency plan to declare martial law last year.

Sources from the team said Friday they are trying to persuade Cho's legal agents to get him to return to Korea to respond to allegations he faces surrounding the military scandal.

As a former chief of the military intelligence unit, Cho allegedly instructed a DSC taskforce to lay out the controversial 67-page document and reported it to then Defense Minister Han Min-koo in February last year.

Under the document, Cho planned to take on the role to command and control the military police after a planned declaration of martial law if the Constitutional Court rejected President Park Geun-hye's impeachment.

The plan was apparently drawn up as part of a countermeasure to quell by force pro-democracy candlelit protesters who demanded Park's ouster. Park is now in jail for bribery and a series of corruption charges.

With the scandal drawing nationwide outrage, the Ministry of National Defense and Ministry of Justice formed a joint probe team last month to discover who masterminded the plot.

Last week, the team searched the homes of Han and Cho to secure evidence related to the scandal. The investigators are known to have searched Cho's empty home here, as the former DSC chief and members of his family remain in the U.S.

The scandal-tainted DSC is on track for disbandment, and the defense ministry plans to launch a new organization as of Sept. 1.

President Moon Jae-in made the decision to reorganize the unit in a way to prevent it from abusing its long-lasting authority to engage in political affairs. Starting this month, the military began work to downsize the new organization and carry out a drastic reshuffle to prevent a recurrence of such an incident.

Earlier this week, the President named Lieutenant General Nam Young-sin as the new chief of the military intelligence unit.

Nam pledged to do his best to normalize the function of the unit as soon as possible by implementing measures to streamline the organization and modify military laws.

Skeptic voices

Despite the military's ongoing pledge to launch a "totally new" intelligence unit, skeptics are surfacing.

Lim Tae-hoon, chief of the Center for Military Human Rights, said Friday it is impossible for the military to conduct the drastic reform despite the initiation of the new unit.

"A preparation committee to establish the new Defense Security Support Command consists of staff all from the DSC," Lim said. This is nothing more than an extension of military abuse, according Lim, who called for the need to form a new intelligence unit with non-DSC personnel.


Lee Min-hyung mhlee@koreatimes.co.kr
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