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(LEAD) Seoul examines U.S. envoy attacker's books for possible ties to N.K.

2015/03/08 16:42

SEOUL, March 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korean police said Sunday they have asked experts to look at some of the books confiscated from the home of the man who attacked the U.S. ambassador for any contents sympathetic to North Korea.

Kim Ki-jong was detained on Friday on charges of attempting to murder U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert. Kim had attacked Lippert, who was attending a morning forum in Seoul on Thursday, with a knife. He told investigators he was protesting the ongoing Korea-U.S. military drills that he said were preventing national unification.

Police raided Kim's home and office and seized 30 copies of books and other print material. Investigators said experts are combing through the books for any content that sympathizes with North Korea. Having or distributing such material can be in violation of South Korea's National Security Law.

Some of the confiscated books were published in North Korea or have been already judged by Seoul as being pro-North Korea, according to the police.

Seoul's law enforcement authorities have focused on how Kim obtained such books, suspecting that he got them during his previous multiple visits to the North.

Police said that they have 219 items from Kim's home including the books, a computer and USBs. They are also going through Kim's mobile phone records and financial accounts to track down any accomplices.

"Just possessing print material with pro-North Korean stances does not warrant punishment. But if the purpose of having them is to praise or propagandize North Korea, that could be punishable," Kim Doo-yeon, an official at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, told a press briefing.

Kim had led a progressive civic group and was confirmed to have participated in a number of anti-war campaigns for years. He traveled to North Korea seven times between 1999 and 2007 -- six times to the city of Kaesong and once to Mount Kumgang -- according to Seoul's unification ministry.

Kim also tried to erect an altar in downtown Seoul in memory of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in December 2011 shortly after he died. The suspect has so far denied any links to North Korea and said he acquired the books for his dissertations and for studies.

North Korea on Sunday slammed South Korea for falsely linking Pyongyang to Kim's actions, accusing Seoul of trying to eliminate pro-unification forces in the South.

Pyongyang had called the attack on Lippert a "deserved punishment" of the U.S.

A statement by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said South Korea is "branding the attack as an act by the forces following the North in a desperate attempt to link the case with North Korea.

"In particular, the South Korean regime's ulterior intention is to egg its American master on to re-list the DPRK as a 'sponsor of terrorism' and strengthen the collusion with the U.S.," it said.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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