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South Korean intelligence agency faces 'overhaul' following forgery scandal

South Korea’s president has apologized for the latest scandal to hit the country’s intelligence service. This comes after three of its agents were charged with forging evidence against a suspected North Korean spy.

President Park Guen-hye issued the apology at a meeting of her cabinet in Seoul on Tuesday.

"Regrettably, the National Intelligence Service's (NIS) wrongful practices and a system of lax oversight were revealed and caused concern among the public, and I would like to apologize for this," the president said.

"If such an event that deepens public distrust happens again, then it will be strictly held accountable," she added.

Park's statement followed an apology from the head of the NIS, Nam Jae-joon earlier in the day.

"I feel deeply pained for letting this happen... and feel tremendous responsibility," Nam told a press conference.

Forged evidence allegations

The words of remorse came a day after the deputy head of the NIS stepped down over a scandal that has seen three senior NIS agents indicted on allegations of fabricating Chinese immigration documents in an effort to build a legal case against a North Korean defector they suspected of being a spy.

Nam also pledged to launch a major reform of the NIS.

"We will take this opportunity to re-evaluate our investigative methods, root out wrong customs and conduct a bone-crushing overhaul of our system, so that things like this will never happen again," Nam said.

The NIS has been hit by a series of scandals since it was established in 1961 in the aftermath of the

Korean War.

Just last year, the agency was accused of trying to influence the

2012 election,

which brought the conservative Park to power.

pfd/mz (Reuters, AFP)

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