Two South Koreans arrested on charges of spying for the North

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Two South Korean nationals, including an army captain, were arrested for allegedly stealing military secrets for a North Korean spy.

The South Koreans were lured by cryptocurrency, officials said on Thursday, adding they are yet to establish the whereabouts of the spy from the North.

Both were formally indicted for violating South Korea’s anti-Pyongyang national security law for espionage.

According to authorities, the army captain allegedly passed login information of a military-run computerised command and control system to the North Korean spy in lieu of cryptocurrency worth nearly $37,710.

The other South Korean national, identified as a 38-year-old businessman who runs a virtual asset management firm, allegedly gave the captain a wristwatch with a hidden camera for the hacking. However, the captain ended up using his smartphone, police said.

The businessman faces a charge of using a USB-style hacking device to obtain military secrets after receiving $600,000 in the form of cryptocurrency from the North Korean spy.

He was accused of offering money to another military officer in exchange for confidential information, who refused the offer, the Korean National Police Agency said. The army captain was approached separately, authorities added.

Both the countries have technically remained at war for over 70 years, however, South Korea's outgoing president Moon Jae-in has renewed calls for a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War to promote peace in the Korean peninsula.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last week expressed rare praise for Mr Moon as the two leaders exchanged “letters of friendship” which has been touted an "expression of their deep trust" by the North state media.

Responding to a letter by Mr Moon, the North Korean supremo praised the “pains and effort” taken by the South Korean leader for the “great cause of the nation until the last days of his term of office”.

Mr Moon reportedly stressed that dialogue should overcome the “era of confrontation”. Mr Kim responded expressing hope for improved inter-Korean relations if the “North and the South make tireless efforts”.

These letters come amid a slew of missile tests by the North this year, including the banned intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), ending a self-imposed 2017 moratorium.

Meanwhile, Mr Kim this week vowed to bolster his nuclear forces at “maximum speed” and threatened to use them if provoked at a military parade marking 90 years of North Korea’s military.

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