“I believe North Korea is routinely hacking South Korea’s major institutes or figures,” Thae told NK News on Monday, confirming the reported hacking attempt.
“I have not been free from such [hacking] threats,” he said, revealing that he has been the target of multiple cybercrimes in the past as well.
The hacking code was identical to that of the group ‘Geumseong 121,’ which has consistently hacked government officials and journalists working on diplomacy, national defense, and North Korea issues, Mun Chong Hyun, director of ESTsecurity, told the Chosun Ilbo.
Mun explained that the suspected group used ‘spear phishing’ — a method of stealing information from specific subjects via messenger apps, emails, and Social Networking Services (SNS), transferring information on the targeted digital device to the hacker’s server on a real-time basis.
ESTsecurity found the name ‘Thae Gu-min’ in the hacker’s server, known to be the name the former North Korean diplomat used when registering as a South Korean citizen to avoid Pyongyang’s tracking.
Data such as contact information, text messages, and pictures were found from the server, appearing to be stolen from Thae’s smartphone, Mun said.
Acknowledging that he is the same ‘Thae Gu-min’ reportedly found on the hacker’s server, Thae told NK News that he has not left any content with “information value” on his phone, taking precautionary measures against potential hacking attempts.
“I have been taking specific measures to respond [to such threats] in case any sensitive conversation takes place via the cellphone no matter how trivial it would be,” he said.
Thae a week ago was announced to be running in the April legislative elections as a candidate for the main opposition ‘United Future Party,’ the new name of the Liberty Korea Party (LKP), in which he will reportedly use his adopted name — which means ‘saving people.’
“I will not yield even an inch and keep fighting for justice,” Thae said on Monday. “As the hacking shows, my life in South Korea for the past few years has been ultimately a battle with Kim Jong Un.”
Edited by James Fretwell
Thae Yong-ho, a prominent defector and former North Korean diplomat, was targeted by hackers suspected to have links to North Korea, according to a security specialist in Seoul.The news comes days after Thae announced his intention to run for office in South Korea's upcoming legislative elections this April, after which many raised concerns about the extensive security measures that the