South Korean officials investigating firm's claim of making woman pregnant with cloned human embryo

SEOUL, South Korea - The South Korean government said Thursday it was investigating a claim that a U.S.-based firm had implanted a cloned embryo in a Korean woman.

Kwak Ji-hwa, a spokesman for the U.S.-based Clonaid's South Korean branch office, said the woman was two months pregnant with the cloned embryo and that he was confidant she would give birth to a healthy baby.

"Everything is fine with her and her baby so far, and I don't see any problems with them in the future," he told The Associated Press.

Kwak said he was not concerned about the South Korean government investigation, because the implant was done outside South Korea and that South Korea has no laws that ban human cloning. An anti-human cloning law is now before the National Assembly for approval.

According to Kwak, the implant was arranged through BioFusion Tech, a South Korean firm based in the southeastern city of Daegu. He said BioFusion has a technical tieup agreement with Clonaid. The U.S. firm was founded by a religious cult, the Raelian Movement, which believes life on Earth was created by extra-terrestrials.

Kwak declined to disclose other details, including where his office is located.

The Health and Welfare Ministry said its investigators visited BioFusion's office Wednesday but that it had moved out of the building a few days earlier.

One ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said BioFusion used a small office space with no laboratory facilities. He said both BioFusion and Clonaid's South Korean branch offices were not legally registered with relevant government offices, raising suspicion that they might be bogus companies.

"Nothing has been confirmed about their claim and their companies. If cloning was done, we're checking whether it was done by medical doctors or licensed researchers. The companies can be prosecuted if anyone without medical licenses was found to have been involved in the move," he said.