London, Aug 18, : Kim Soo-im alias Mata Hari, a Seoul socialite was apparently a victim f Cold War politics.
According to Scotsman, Kim acquired infamy for having charmed secret information out of one lover, an American colonel, and passed it to another, a top communist in North Korea.
However, records of a confidential 1950 US inquiry and other declassified files in the US National Archives reveal that her American lover Colonel John E Baird had no access to the supposed sensitive information.
And her Korean lover, Lee Gang-kook, later executed by North Korea, may actually have been an American agent.
Born in 1911, Kim Soo-im was from the educated elite. Being an orphan, she was schooled by American missionaries, eventually graduating from Seoul's prestigious Ewha Women's College. She married an older married man, Lee Gang-kook, a German-educated intellectual active in Seoul's leftist movement. Lee rose to political prominence after Japan's defeat. But within a year of the US takeover, he fled to North Korea when he faced arrest.
Meanwhile, Kim's fluency in English had made her valuable to the US occupation forces, and she was hired as an assistant by Colonel Baird, the Americans' 56-year-old, Irish-born military police chief. According to Korean and American witnesses, Baird secured a house for her and took to spending nights with her. When the US occupation army withdrew in 1949, succeeded by an advisory corps, Baird shifted to assisting the national police, and his American wife joined him in Korea.
Finally, on March 1, 1950, Kim now no longer US-employed was arrested by South Korean police, joining thousands of others ensnared in President Syngman Rhee's roundup of Leftists. Nine days after Baird sailed from Korea on June 14, 1950, Kim faced a five-judge South Korean military court and a long list of alleged crimes. The most serious charge accused her of eliciting the classified 1949 US withdrawal plans from Baird, and relaying them to the northern communists. On the trial's third day, Kim confessed and was sentenced to death.
From the espionage case, it looks like little more than a frame-up. Baird could have defended her, but instead he was rushed out of Korea to avoid further embarrassment. She was left to her fate to be tortured by South Korean police into confessing to things she hadn't done.