SEOUL, July 18 (Yonhap) -- Lee Byung-kee, the new director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), emphasized Friday his agency should stay away from politics, as he took up the post following a series of political scandals involving it.
Lee, a former career diplomat, said that is a way for the disgraced organization to regain public trust, according to the NIS.
In his swearing-in ceremony, Lee called on the NIS to focus on its basic mission -- protecting the country and people from the threat of the enemy and helping maintain a free and democratic society -- it said in a press release.
"I will certainly keep this pledge of political neutrality," Lee was quoted as saying in the event held at the NIS headquarters in southern Seoul.
He was guarded about the direction of the agency's reform, only saying it is still in the process of gathering opinions.
The NIS was accused of abusing its authority to sway public opinion ahead of the 2012 presidential election in favor of the ruling party candidate and now president, Park Geun-hye.
It was also charged recently with manipulating evidence to wrongfully charge a man of espionage.
In May, President Park dismissed NIS director Nam Jae-joon and named Lee, then-ambassador to Tokyo, as his successor.
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