Country Listing

South Korea Table of Contents

South Korea


The Agency for National Security Planning

The Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP) was originally established on June 19, 1961 as the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) directly under the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction in the immediate aftermath of the May 16, 1961, military coup. Its duties were to "supervise and coordinate both international and domestic intelligence activities and criminal investigation by all government intelligence agencies, including that of the military." Its mission was akin to that of a combined United States Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The first head of the KCIA was Kim Chong-p'il. Kim, utilizing the existing Army Counterintelligence Corps, built a 3,000-member organization--the most powerful intelligence and investigatory agency in the republic. The KCIA maintained a complex set of interlocking institutional links with almost all of the government's key decision-making bodies. The KCIA had a nearmonopoly over crucial information concerning national security under the charter of the Act Concerning Protection of Military Secrets and, more importantly, possessed considerable veto power over other agencies through its supervisory and coordination functions.

The KCIA's practically unlimited power to investigate and to detain any person accused of antistate behavior severely restricted the right to dissent or to criticize the regime. The frequent questioning, detention, or even prosecution of dissidents, opposition figures, and reporters seriously jeopardized basic freedoms and created an atmosphere of political repression.

After the 1979 assassination of President Park Chung Hee by the KCIA director, the KCIA was purged and temporarily lost much of its power. Chun Doo Hwan used his tenure as acting director of the KCIA from April to July 1980 to expand his power base beyond the military. The organization was renamed the Agency for National Security Planning, and its powers were redefined in presidential orders and legislation. The ANSP, like its predecessor, was a cabinet-level agency directly accountable to the president. The director of the ANSP continued to have direct presidential access. In March 1981, the ANSP was redesignated as the principal agency for collecting and processing all intelligence. The requirement for all other agencies with intelligence-gathering and analysis functions in their charters to coordinate their activities with the ANSP was reaffirmed.

Legislation passed at the end of 1981 further redefined the ANSP's legally mandated functions to include the collection, compilation, and distribution of foreign and domestic information regarding public safety against communists and plots to overthrow the government. The maintenance of public safety with regard to documents, materials, facilities, and districts designated as secrets of the state was the purview of the ANSP as was the investigation of crimes of insurrection and foreign aggression, crimes of rebellion, aiding and abetting the enemy, disclosure of military secrets, and crimes provided for in the Act Concerning Protection of Military Secrets and the National Security Act. The investigation of crimes related to duties of intelligence personnel, the supervision of information collection, and the compilation and distribution of information on other agencies' activities designed to maintain public safety also were undertaken by the ANSP. By 1983 the ANSP had rebounded and again was the preeminent foreign and domestic intelligence organization.

As of 1990, the organizational structure of the ANSP, was considered classified by Seoul, although earlier organizational information was public knowledge. Despite the social and political changes that came with the Sixth Republic (1987- ), the ANSP apparently still considered the support and maintenance of the president in power to be one of its most important roles. In April 1990, for example, ruling Democratic Liberal Party (DLP) coleader Kim Young Sam complained that he and members of his faction within the DLP had been subjected to "intelligence maneuvering in politics" that included wiretapping, surveillance, and financial investigations.

Nevertheless, the ANSP's domestic powers were indeed curtailed under the Sixth Republic. Prior to the change, the ANSP had free access to all government offices and files. The ANSP, Defense Security Command, Office of the Prosecutor General, Korean National Police, and the Ministry of Justice had stationed their agents in the National Assembly to collect information on the activities of politicians. In May 1988, however, overt ANSP agents, along with agents of other intelligence agencies, were withdrawn from the National Assembly building. The ANSP's budget was not made public, nor apparently was it made available in any useful manner to the National Assembly in closed sessions. In July 1989, pressured by opposition parties and public opinion, the ANSP was subjected to inspection and audit by the National Assembly for the first time in eighteen years. The ANSP removed its agents from the chambers of the Seoul Criminal Court and the Supreme Court in 1988.

As of 1990, however, the ANSP remained deeply involved in domestic politics and was not prepared to relinquish the power to prevent radical South Korean ideas--much less North Korean ideas- -from circulating in South Korean society. Despite an agreement in September 1989 by the chief policymakers of the ruling and opposition parties to strip the ANSP of its power to investigate pro-North Korean activity (a crime under the National Security Act), the ANSP continued enforcing this aspect of the law rather than limiting itself to countering internal and external attempts to overthrow the government. The ANSP continued to pick up radical student and dissident leaders for questioning without explanation.

In another move to limit the potential for the ANSP to engage in "intelligence politics," the ANSP Information Coordination Committee was disbanded because of its history of unduly influencing other investigating authorities, such as the Office of the Prosecutor General. Additionally, the ANSP, responding to widespread criticism of its alleged human rights violations, set up a "watchdog" office to supervise its domestic investigations and to prevent agents from abusing their powers while interrogating suspects.

Aside from its controversial internal security mission, the ANSP also was known for its foreign intelligence gathering and analysis and for its investigation of offenses involving external subversion and military secrets. The National Unification Board and the ANSP (and the KCIA before it) were the primary sources of government analysis and policy direction for South Korea's reunification strategy and contacts with North Korea. The intelligence service's reputation in pursuing counterespionage cases also was excellent.

The ANSP monitored visitors, particularly from communist and East European countries, to prevent industrial and military espionage. Following the diplomatic successes of the late 1980s-- the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe, and the increased informal contacts with China, Mongolia, and Vietnam--this mission grew in importance. The security watch list contained 162 out of 3,808 visitors from communist nations in 1988 and 226 out of 6,444 visitors in 1989.

Data as of June 1990

Country Listing

South Korea Table of Contents