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Page last updated at 07:31 GMT, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 08:31 UK

N Korea 'sex spy' jailed in South

North Korean spy Won Jeong-hwa
Won Jeong-hwa confessed and begged for leniency

A North Korean woman has been sentenced to five years in a South Korean prison for spying, say reports.

Won Jeong-hwa, 34, admitted seducing military officers in exchange for classified information on the location of important military installations.

Investigators have also accused her of scheming to murder intelligence agents using poison-tipped needles, though the plot did not go ahead.

North Korea has denied she is an agent, calling her "human scum".

It has accused the South of fabricating the case for propaganda purposes.

'Defector'

Won - unsmiling but calm, dressed in green prison uniform with her hair in a ponytail - was sentenced on Wednesday in a court in Suweon, south of Seoul.

The headline-grabbing case came to light in August, when Won was arrested along with her stepfather Kim Dong-sun.

Officials from the prosecutor's office display evidence from the case against North Korean spy Won Jeong-hwa
The sensational case has attracted eager media attention

According to AFP news agency, she had come to South Korea in 2001, in the guise of a defector from the North, and was tasked by its National Intelligence Service with touring military units to give anti-communist lectures.

She used the occasions to contact army officers, AFP quoted investigators as saying, some of whom she slept with in exchange for secret information.

The agency reported that she was also found guilty of involvement in the kidnapping of a South Korean businessman from China to her authoritarian homeland in 1999, and of trying to trace the whereabouts of a top defector, Hwang Jang-yop, living in the South.

Won could have faced life behind bars. But the judge passing sentence cited her confession, co-operation with investigators, and expressions of remorse.

Her stepfather, 63, is also being prosecuted on spying charges.

Won's work as a spy has not been admitted by the North, which accuses the South of creating a charade for propaganda purposes.

Despite apparent advances in six-party negotiations over North Korea's nuclear programme, North-South bilateral relations have chilled since South Korea's conservative president came to office. He has adopted a harder line towards the North.




SEE ALSO
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12 Oct 08 |  Asia-Pacific
S Korean spies admit 1973 snatch
24 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
N Korea 'spy ship' a hit with tourists
02 Jun 03 |  Asia-Pacific
US resumes N Korea spy flights
13 Mar 03 |  Asia-Pacific


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