Remember the report, the month before last, saying that North Korea’s ruling party had backed off on paper from its commitment to encourage a revolution in South Korea?
The Korean Workers’ Party deleted from its supreme rulebook some explicit language that had committed it to encourage a revolution in South Korea, according to that report from the South’s left-leaning Hankyoreh newspaper. The gesture – which was bound to, and did, become public – provided encouragement to South Koreans and others who advocate peaceful engagement with the North.
Asia Times pointed out that, to the North’s reigning Kims, North-South relations had always been a zero-sum game. Pyongyang could be making a clever move to disarm Seoul and caution would be advisable.
Sure enough, here comes a new report via Seoul-based DailyNK saying that North Korean military authorities have “handed down a special order to the so-called ‘Storm Corps,’ the nation’s most elite special forces unit, to ‘prepare for guerilla warfare'” – in the process supplying the unit with three-dimensional “military maps of South Korea’s major regions.”
Attributing the information to an unnamed North Korean military source, the article continues:
Distributing to all branches of the army new topographical maps in the guise of an order entitled, “Systemic Transformation of Tactical Topography in Areas of Operation,” the supreme command basically ordered the Storm Corps, in particular, to begin training for urban guerrilla war to infiltrate target objectives.
To put this another way, they ordered the Storm Corps to properly familiarize themselves with the transformed urban topography of South Korea – the “enemy” – and carry out intensive training, re-establishing operation plans for small-unit combat infiltrations …
In particular, one of the unit’s major tasks during this year’s summer training is to build a new training field where personnel can practice attacking mockups of South Korea’s strategic facilities, including the presidential [Blue House] palace, Cheong Wa Dae.
According to the source, the supreme command stressed that the Storm Corps “must cherish the firm conviction that they will suppress military threats in South Korea and dynamically bring forward the unification of the Fatherland through ‘strong defensive power,’” and that the corps must “prepare all combat personnel as phoenixes of guerrilla warfare.”
Meanwhile, the supreme command reportedly issued similar orders to other special forces units as well, including the light infantry units of frontline corps, divisional sniper brigades, sniper brigades of the navy, air force and anti-air units, and the light infantry regiments of frontline divisions.
From the time when Kim Il Sung was planning the 1950 invasion of South Korea, the Kims have always imagined they would need the help of a Southern uprising against the Seoul regime in order to succeed in taking the South.
Guerrilla tactics have generally been used to try to create or exacerbate unrest in the South and destabilize the Southern regime. Thus the original, unsuccessful Blue House decapitation raid of 1968, in which the target was South Korean President Park Chung-hee.
That said, it’s also worth noting that Pyongyang always seeks to appear ferocious whenever the time for the annual US-South Korean joint military exercises comes around.
Those are getting cranked up now.
After Kim Jong Un carelessly let it be known that the North had long since used up its war-reserve rice, perhaps he calculated that raising the specter of sending his few remaining well-fed troops across the border was the most effective scare tactic he could muster in this year of food shortages and Covid-19.
Bradley K. Martin is the author of Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty.