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S Korean Nat’l Broadcaster Exec Received Crypto from Head of Pyongyang-linked Body

Source: SashaMagic/Adobe

An executive news director at the national South Korean broadcaster KBS received “crypto” from a figure at the head of an organization with alleged ties to North Korea, an official audit has revealed.

Per DongA Ilbo, auditors explained that the news director, identified by his surname Jin, had lent money to a man surnamed Ahn, and identified as the Chairman of the Asia-Pacific Exchange Association (abbreviated as APIA). Jin, the audit revealed, lent Ahn a sum of around $7,000 in 2019.

But in 2020, Ahn appears to have returned the money in crypto – handing Jin 200,000 tokens of an unnamed cryptoasset.

The auditors presented their findings in front of the National Assembly, where an MP for the ruling People’s Power Party said that it did not “make sense” that a “journalist should loan money” to the head of an organization like the APIA.

According to its website, the APIA is a group that is focused on repatriating the remains of South Koreans who were forced to work as laborers in Japan from 1910 to 1945 – when Imperial Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula.

The APIA has also been involved in peace-related efforts with North Korea. But of late, the body has found itself at the center of an emerging scandal possibly involving the head of the opposition Democratic Party, Lee Jae-myung and the former Mayor of Seoul Park Won-soon.

Ties to North Korea? A National Scandal Brews

On Monday, prosecutors raided the headquarters of the underwear-making giant SBW Group after evidence emerged that employees may have smuggled cash destined for North Korea into China in 2019. APIA may have ties to SBW – as it is headquartered in the VIVIAN building, which is owned by SBW.

Prosecutors believe that SBW and APIA were involved in a bribery case with links to Lee Jae-myung. On Friday last week, they indicted the former Vice Gyeonggi Province Governor Lee Hwa-young, claiming that he accepted $180,000 worth of bribes from SBW – during the period when Lee Jae-myung was serving as Gyeonggi Governor.

Korea Times reported that prosecutors think that “in return for the bribes, Lee helped SBW sign a business agreement with North Korean organizations in 2019, under which the underwear firm was promised business rights to secure rare earth metals and other mineral resources from North Korea.”

Some politicians have also accused Lee Jae-myung and Park of fostering links with Virgil Griffith, the Ethereum developer jailed in the United States for attempting to help Pyongyang evade sanctions.