Within the vast stone-walled NIS headquarters, surrounded by hilly mountains in southern Seoul, skilled operatives analyze and try to mastermind each and every political activity in both Koreas. Inside the heavily guarded compound stretches a vast campus, magnificently landscaped, surrounding giant grim-looking buildings that convey mixed images of oppression and fear, mystery, and dignity. Sheathed by thick cold-gray stone and opaque glass windows, the headquarters buildings form a half circle plus five or six wings, all of which accommodate a majority of the agency’s seven thousand people. When the present headquarters was opened in 1995, it was one of two “intelligent” buildings in the country—meaning that everything inside runs automatically. The other “intelligent” building was the headquarters of POSCO, Pohang Iron and Steel Corporation, the government-invested steel manufacturer.
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