Out of all the totalitarian shitholes threatening to fire off a nuke, North Korea is easily the biggest wild card. In the past we’ve done a pretty thorough job reporting on the regime’s endless abuse of their people, shitty amusement parks, and their overall creepy Big Brother state. This time we got the skinny from a South Korean-born NATO soldier with intimate ties to the South Korean Army. He told us some insider info about the defense plans of his motherland in the event of a North Korean invasion, and how they are pretty much fucked if the North does decide to come down their way. Turns out the North Korean Army are not a pack of malnourished farmers like most of us assumed; but a horde of unholy super soldiers fiercely loyal to their Dear Leader. Besides building underground tunnels that stretch into South Korean territory, from which they will burst out of in a rage unknown to Western militaries, they can swim for days, shoot people between the eyes, and live in caves for years waiting patiently to blow Seoul to smithereens.
VICE: So where does South Korea keep all of their soldiers?
Anonymous soldier: During a South Korean marine’s 24-month conscription they patrol a piece of real estate assigned to them on the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). A company is made up of around 120 infantry soldiers defending South Korea from a potential invasion by the North. It’s the most fortified place on Earth, with something like 10 million installed and active landmines.
Wait, what exactly is a “piece of real estate”?
A piece of real estate is a defensive position and a square in the grid that is the DMZ. They learn every inch of it by patrolling and reinforcing it constantly, and changing the coordinates of their artillery periodically.
Are they always prepared for an invasion?
Oh yeah. It’s like Israel.
What would it be like if it did happen?
If the North Koreans did invade, intelligence puts their army at around 1.2 million infantry who would crash the borders at various points. Because of all those landmines put in over the years, we figure they’re going to clear a lane of entry for their troops to punch through using artillery and overwhelming numbers, which means it’s critical the whole line and each piece of real estate is held by each company. If the line is breached at all, we’re pretty much fucked. Their orders are to hold their real estate for seven minutes—no more, no less.
Seven minutes sounds really specific.
That’s exactly how long it takes to scramble bombers to their location so they can bomb it directly. This is why they often call their little grid the “tomb.” It’s ultimately a suicide zone.
That’s pretty heavy. Where are these jets coming from, exactly?
Jets in the present plan would be coming from Okinawa, Guam, and some of the US aircraft carriers stationed in the Pacific. But by the time the jets take off and drop their bombs, there won’t be any airfields to land and refuel at in South Korea, because all of the airfields are strategic North Korean targets and all of their heavy artillery have the range to hit them easily. That’s why the South Korean air force has top-secret landing zones already set up on highways across the country that are equipped to refuel and rearm planes. But apparently North Korean spies have already confirmed all of these highways anyway.
So basically everybody is fucked and the defensive plan is hopeless.
Nobody really expects those companies to hold on for that long anyway. It’s a long shot. They’ll not only be getting their area bombed to shit, but don’t forget, North Korea has something like 130,000 well-trained special forces, and they’ll probably already be landing on the South Korean coast coming up their ass while they’re holding on for seven minutes.
Coming up their ass doing what?
They’ll be do something called “promoting general chaos,” a military tactic meant to shock your enemy’s will to fight by attacking psychological targets like city halls, police bases, radio stations, water purification plants, hospitals, trains, and even grocery stores. There’s also confirmed intelligence that some North Korean troops will be using South Korean uniforms to confuse people. On top of all that there are the tunnels.
What do you mean, "the tunnels"?
They’ve started finding these tunnels built by the North Koreans that I’ve been to myself, that stretch two and a half miles into South Korean territory. We’re talking tunnels wide enough that every hour a whole battalion could be pumped out of it and just start swarming everything in sight.
I’ve heard a lot about the North Koreans and their underground armies. What’s that all about?
The lesson the North Korean army learned from Iraq, Afghanistan, and even the last Korean War, is that the US, South Korea’s chief ally, always has air supremacy. That’s why they’ve created bases for full divisions buried under mountains that are so deep and impenetrable they could sustain a nuclear attack. Not to mention they have built-in fiber-optic communication networks connecting every underground base. They literally have everything you’d need there, like factories and workforces to build tanks, guns, and munitions. They use these mountain bases as permanent bunkers, with long range howitzers on rail lines scaling across peaks that can relentlessly shoot salvos. Mobile artillery like that is an incredible advantage. Even though the South Korean army could probably triangulate where the howitzer fire comes from, the rail lines allow them to quickly relocate.
This all sounds like they’re really prepared and South Korea isn’t.
I mean it’s a completely different society and outlook. Just to give you an idea how hard and disciplined these fuckers are, around 2005 a North Korean soldier defected and gave himself up to South Korean police in some remote village on the northwest coast. When an intelligence officer asked him how he got there he said he swam. The guy was basically a member of an elite reconnaissance unit that literally swam something like 30 miles down from North Korea, gathered intelligence on South Korean defenses, then swam back. The guy just ditched his unit for the swim back. He was shocked the South Koreans didn’t do the same thing.
A few years before that, South Korean Special Forces soldiers, guys who are always pulling operations behind enemy lines, told me that the North Korean army uses political prisoners and captured South Korean soldiers as training bait; they send them into the forest and tell them that they can live if they get to the border. Then they let their soldiers hunt them. None survive, obviously. North Korean Special Forces are notorious for killing with perfect headshots.
Tell me plain and simple: How do you think an invasion would all play out and when?
If they ever attacked, the South would definitely own the air, but they’ll pay a severely heavy price. Obviously China and the US would get involved and with the new naval race going on in the Pacific, it would pretty much draw in every country in that area. Who knows what the future holds though. They recently fired a rocket to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Kim Jong Il, but the rocket failed. The North Korean regime was hoping it would solidify Kim Jong Un’s competency as a leader to their public. So now they need a new piece of hardware to impress the people. And a lot of experts think it’ll be a third atomic bomb testing. After that, things are just going to escalate. He’s already looking weak and insecure and that’s a bad sign.
Illustrated by Jordana Globerman