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Russia Arrested South Korea National on Grounds of Espionage


For the first time, Russia apprehended a South Korean citizen on cyber espionage charges and transferred them from Vladivostok to Moscow for further investigation.

“During the investigation of an espionage case, a South Korean citizen, Baek Won-soon, was identified and detained in Vladivostok, subsequently placed in custody under a court order,” stated an unnamed source.

Russia Accuses Won-soon of Collaborating Foreign Intelligence

Won-soon stands accused of transmitting classified “top secret” information to unspecified foreign intelligence agencies.

According to the agency, the Russian authorities detained Won-soon in Vladivostok earlier this year and moved to Moscow late last month. Presently, he is at the Lefortovo pretrial detention centre, with his arrest extended for an additional three months until June 15, 2024.

Notably, this detention center also holds American journalist Evan Gershkovich, awaiting trial on espionage charges, which he has refuted.

This development occurs amidst growing geopolitical relations between Russia and North Korea, even as state-sponsored hacking groups linked to the latter have targeted the Kremlin for strategic intelligence-gathering missions.

Furthermore, it coincides with the recent arrest in the U.S. of a former Google engineer for allegedly misappropriating proprietary information from the tech giant while covertly employed by two China-based companies, including one he founded last year before his departure from Google.

It comes as a surprise to many as its counterpart North Korea is vast in the field of espionage. Last year, analysts at the cyber intelligence firm Recorded Future observed an unexpected focus by North Korean hackers on cyber espionage rather than conducting destructive system attacks.

The firm’s cyber analysts found that over 70% of North Korea’s cyberattacks since 2009 aimed at gathering data rather than causing harm to systems.

According to Recorded Future, the North Korean government appears to prioritize understanding external perceptions of their regime and collects data to support their development of nuclear and ballistic missile technologies.