S. Korean spy chief says teen joined IS militants

Associated Press

Seoul, South Korea — A teenager who went missing in Turkey last month is probably the first known South Korean to join the Islamic State group, officials said Tuesday.

The director of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service, Lee Byung-kee, told legislators in a closed-door meeting that the 18-year-old man is alive in Syria and with an Islamic State group unit that trains combat personnel, opposition lawmaker Kim Kwang Jin said.

Kim said Lee didn’t reveal how the spy agency obtained the information or where the Islamic State group unit is based.

The man, identified only by his last name, Kim, was last seen leaving a hotel in the Turkish border town of Kilis on Jan. 10. An official from Seoul’s Foreign Ministry, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing office rules, confirmed that he would be the first known South Korean to join the militant group.

South Korean police said in a news conference last month that Kim likely attempted to enter Syria with the intention of joining the Islamic State group, citing his computer, social media and telephone records that showed him actively communicating with people suspected to be recruiters from the group.

Lee also told legislators that there was no evidence to support media reports that Kim Kyong Hui, aunt of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was dead, said Kim the lawmaker. Kim Kyong Hui last made a public appearance in September 2013, three months before Kim Jong Un executed her husband, Jang Song Thaek, on treason charges, according to South Korea’s Unification Ministry.