The Korea Herald


After suspected KF-21 leak, lawmakers blame weak laws on military secrets

By Kim Arin

Published : Feb. 5, 2024 - 17:40

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South Korean KF-21 fighter aircraft (Yonhap) South Korean KF-21 fighter aircraft (Yonhap)

Indonesian employees at the Korea Aerospace Industries are under investigation on suspicion of attempting to leak secrets about South Korean fighter aircraft.

The incident sparked calls for laws on leaks of confidential military information to be strengthened, the bills for which are currently stuck at the National Assembly.

The KAI, the developer for the KF-21 fighters, caught the employees trying to take removable drives containing secret data last month. They have since been reported to the Defense Counterintelligence Command and the National Intelligence Service, which are looking into the possible theft with the Defense Acquisition Program Administration.

Rep. Hong Suk-joon of the ruling People Power Party said that legal loopholes were enabling such leaks of important data related to defense technologies and other military secrets.

The laws on protecting commercial secrets and defense industrial technologies require an “intent to be used in a foreign country” to be proved for a leak to result in a conviction. This makes punishment difficult, the lawmaker said.

Hong urged his colleagues at the National Assembly to pass the bills to close these loopholes. The amendments for the related laws have been stuck in the Assembly judiciary committee since being introduced in 2020.

“To counter the threats of defense industrial data being leaked overseas, the Assembly needs to pass these pending bills,” he said.