Police in Tokyo conducted follow-up raids this week on the office of a North Korean-linked science association as part of an investigation into illegal PC exports.
The Korean Association of Science and Technology in Japan (在日本朝鮮人科学技術協会, 재일본조선인과학기술협회) was raided on Tuesday, according to local media reports.
Police were investigating a possible link between the group and Lee Soon Gi, the 49-year old president of used PC equipment seller Popura Tec (website, right), said the Jiji news agency.
Lee was arrested earlier this month along with two others on suspicion of exporting PCs to North Korea in violation of Japan’s trade sanctions.
The science association was formed in 1959 with roots going back to 1946 and has been raided several times in the past in relation to exports to North Korea.
- In 1994 the group engineered the purchase of a “jet mill,” necessary for production of solid fuel for missiles, that was allegedly exported to North Korea.
- In 2005 it was raided as part of an investigation into the unauthorized sale of ginseng medicines and misleading advertisements.
- In 2006 an executive of the group was arrested on allegations she attempted to smuggle 60 bags of an intravenous solution and 120 ampoules of liquid drugs to North Korea without declaring them. The solution is used to deliver amino acids to patients after surgery while the drugs are used to delay the progress of liver cancer. Police suspected the drugs were intended to treat scientists exposed to radiation.
The computers were allegedly exported to the Korea Computer Center, the Pyongyang-based computer research center. The KCC is suspected of being one of North Korea’s main centers for hackers and it has been blamed in the past for cyber attacks against South Korean companies.
Japan’s Kyodo News reported “The KCC is suspected of involvement in cyberattacks on Japan.” That’s the first time I have seen such a claim. Kyodo did not elaborate on the source of its information or the attacks.