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Suspect in Gangnam murder was a secret anti-North operative

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Lee Kyeong-woo, a 35-year-old suspect who allegedly designed the Gangnam kidnap and murder case, was formerly an anti-North spy agent. [NEWS1]
Lee Kyeong-woo, a 35-year-old suspect who allegedly designed the Gangnam kidnap and murder case, was formerly an anti-North spy agent. [NEWS1]

One of the suspects in the Gangnam kidnap-murder case had served as an anti-North operative, a court hearing revealed.

A second trial for the seven suspects of the crypto kidnap and murder case that made the headlines in April was held at Seoul Central District Court on Monday.

Thirty-five-year-old Lee Kyeong-woo, the alleged mastermind behind the murder, was found to have been a secret service agent previously.

Lee’s history came up as prosecutors were interrogating a 23-year-old codefendant who was involved in the scheme but ditched the group before the killing.

Prosecutors asked why Lee, a former anti-North operative, did not execute the murder himself. The 23-year-old said he was aware of Lee’s record but doesn’t know why Lee chose to stay put.

The codefendant added that though he is unsure whether Lee masterminded the plot, he recalled other suspects awaiting Lee’s orders while tailing the victim.

Other suspects named Lee as the mastermind of the case.

Lee and the group took part in kidnapping the 48-year-old victim in front of an apartment complex in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, at 11:48 p.m. on March 29, killing her and dumping her body near Daecheong Dam in Daejeon overnight.

They reportedly killed the victim for losing money after investing in a crypto token — which plummeted from 10,000 won ($7.8) to 10 won in six months — that she and her husband advertised.

The group was allegedly plotting to murder the husband as well.

Names and photos of the five suspects were revealed in April in the public interest.

BY SOHN DONG-JOO [sohn.dongjoo@joongang.co.kr]