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A Korean's viewpoint
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World Traveler



Joined: 29 May 2009

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

hiamnotcool wrote:
How can they be "special" forces when there are 80,000 of them?

Per capita North Korea has the largest troop numbers in the world with well over a million soldiers. Overall, they have the largest special operations forces in the world. North Korea has a "military first" policy, which funnels resources into making their military as dangerous as possible, at the expense of all else.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/08/AR2009100804018.html?sid=ST2009100804417

'Profoundly Loyal'

South Korea and the United States agree that the number of North Korean special forces is rising, but they disagree on how much.

The number is now 180,000, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry. That's a 50 percent increase since the South's last official count three years ago. But Sharp, the U.S. commander here, puts the number at 80,000 (although that still dwarfs the special forces of any country, including the United States, which has about 51,000.)

Much of the difference appears to be a dispute over the definition of special forces. North Korea has retrained and reconfigured about 60,000 infantry troops as special forces in the past three years, South Korea says. The United States agrees that this reconfiguring has occurred, but it "does not count [retrained infantry] as special forces," according to Maj. Todd Fleming, a spokesman for U.S. forces in Korea.

Whatever the number, there is widespread agreement that the North's special forces are increasingly formidable. Sharp describes them as "tough, well-trained and profoundly loyal," while being capable of illicit activities, strategic reconnaissance and attacks against civilian infrastructure and military targets across Northeast Asia.

Their low-tech, low-cost training includes throwing knives, firing poisonous darts and running up steep hills wearing backpacks filled with 60 pounds of rocks and sand, said Ha Tae-jun, a former South Korean commando who has debriefed captured members of the North's special forces. They are also drilled in street warfare, chemical attacks, night fighting, martial arts, car theft and using spoons and forks as weapons, say South Korean government reports and military experts.

South Korean and U.S. forces in Korea have begun counterinsurgency training in the past year to respond to what are thought to be new tactics -- including the use of improvised explosive devices, or roadside bombs -- that North Korean special forces have adopted from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Staff officers from the Center for Army Lessons Learned at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., have come to Korea to help prepare soldiers for the new threat.

In decades past, North Korean special forces have demonstrated remarkable fighting ability and grit when cornered inside South Korea. In 1968, a 31-member team attacked Blue House, the presidential residence in Seoul. Although they failed to assassinate President Park Chung-hee, they killed 68 South Koreans over the nine days it took to track them down. Several commandos committed suicide to avoid capture, one was unaccounted for and one was taken alive.
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Steelrails



Joined: 12 Mar 2009
Location: Earth, Solar System

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It is my understanding that North Korea has enough mortars to take out the city of Seoul in one hours time


First, it's artillery, not mortars. Second, that would involve massing all of NK's artillery within firing range of Seoul, something that would be detected well in advance and provide 1000s of juicy targets. It would likely involve firing all of their ammunition, leaving little in reserve to deal with any counterattack. Next, the military value of blowing up some apartments, a Tony Moly, and a chicken hof is questionable at best. The author likely took the maximum rate of fire and multiplied it by the number of artillery pieces to get their numbers, but the sustained rate of fire is much lower. Lastly, bombardments are not that effective. Basically, the person is assuming that every shell hit a completely different place and caused maximum damage and no artillery pieces were taken out in counterbattery fire.

Quote:
With the North Korean "bugbear," standing between South Korea and China, it is going to be very difficult for South Korea and China to be more than simple friends. And, lets not forget all those Chinese textbooks that claim the Beakchae Kingdom was really Chinese and that China has a claim on Korea. I think South Korea has a lot to fear from China, especially if South Korea did not have the U.S. to balance power in the region. As the blog said, South Korea has long been a victim of the larger regional powers - China and Japan.


By that logic so does Mongolia and Vietnam, but you don't see the Chinese about to invade them. Why? Because its the 21st century and you have things like international markets and trade links and investments. Sorry, this isn't 1898 and a game of Risk. China isn't going to send 2 million storming across the Yalu to annex a puppet kingdom.

China already has its Western provinces to deal with, Japan, Taiwan, as well as mish-mash of various internal groups growing restless with its government. A feudal war over claim & title is not high on the list of plans. Sorry.

Quote:
And, what does China really have to offer? Do you remember garbage dumplings?


If you think the Chinese economy is all about garbage dumplings, I don't know what to say. They also offer natural resources, a massive market, financial capital, labor, industry, expertise, and more.

Korea offers China a comparatively well educated, wealthier, technologically advanced, highly marketable consumer market.
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hiamnotcool



Joined: 06 Feb 2012

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

World Traveler wrote:

Whatever the number, there is widespread agreement that the North's special forces are increasingly formidable. Sharp describes them as "tough, well-trained and profoundly loyal," while being capable of illicit activities, strategic reconnaissance and attacks against civilian infrastructure and military targets across Northeast Asia.

Their low-tech, low-cost training includes throwing knives, firing poisonous darts and running up steep hills wearing backpacks filled with 60 pounds of rocks and sand, said Ha Tae-jun, a former South Korean commando who has debriefed captured members of the North's special forces. They are also drilled in street warfare, chemical attacks, night fighting, martial arts, car theft and using spoons and forks as weapons, say South Korean government reports and military experts.

South Korean and U.S. forces in Korea have begun counterinsurgency training in the past year to respond to what are thought to be new tactics -- including the use of improvised explosive devices, or roadside bombs -- that North Korean special forces have adopted from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Staff officers from the Center for Army Lessons Learned at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., have come to Korea to help prepare soldiers for the new threat.



It sounds similar to the way the Fedayeen Saddam were described back in the day. A lot of that was hype. I just have to argue that the more people that are incorporated into a unit the less intense the screening process is going to be and the more the funding will be spread out. It should be all about quality over quantity. That is just less attention that can paid to each soldier in these units. The whole premise is to have the best of the best. I imagine within those 80k troops they have a select few that would be considered the equivalent to the elite special forces units in the other armies of the world. I'm not a general though so whatever.

Interesting article. And it did answer my question so thanks.
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World Traveler



Joined: 29 May 2009

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steelrails wrote:
Quote:
It is my understanding that North Korea has enough mortars to take out the city of Seoul in one hours time


First, it's artillery, not mortars. Second, that would involve massing all of NK's artillery within firing range of Seoul, something that would be detected well in advance and provide 1000s of juicy targets.

Most of it is already amassed along the DMZ and pointed straight at Seoul. I read Seoul could be hit with 10,000 rounds per minute from long range weapons. Not sure why you're so insistent North Korea has a weak military. That is simply not true. Look at this from the Atlantic:
Quote:
The threat from north of the DMZ is formidable. North Korea boasts 100,000 well-trained special-operations forces and one of the world’s largest biological and chemical arsenals. It has stockpiles of anthrax, cholera, and plague, as well as eight industrial facilities for producing chemical agents—any of which could be launched at Seoul by the army’s conventional artillery.
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edwardcatflap



Joined: 22 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It sounds similar to the way the Fedayeen Saddam were described back in the day. A lot of that was hype


You mean the way they went from the 'Elite Republican Guard' to the 'Republican Guard' to the 'Republicans made this shit up about there being guards out there... Laughing


Last edited by edwardcatflap on Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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andrewchon



Joined: 16 Nov 2008
Location: In my goshiwon cubicle. Seeking moksha.

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

North Korea does have an impressive army, but they are like German army during the Operation Michael WesternFront 1918. Soon as they invade, they'll head straight for supermarkets and start eating, and just as the Germans couldn't exploit the break-through because they were too busy eating captured French food, North Koreans won't be able to advance through eating themselves silly.
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John Stamos jr.



Joined: 07 Oct 2012
Location: Namsan

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

edwardcatflap wrote:
Quote:
It sounds similar to the way the Fedayeen Saddam were described back in the day. A lot of that was hype


You mean the way they went from the 'Elite Republican Guard' to the 'Republican Guard' to the 'Republicans made this shit up about there being guards out there... Laughing


Dennis Leary is working in Korea?
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nicwr2002



Joined: 17 Aug 2011

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:21 pm    Post subject: Re: A Korean's viewpoint Reply with quote

“If you hate it in Korea so much then fly back to your own country. You came there, because of your poor economy and my country gave you a job. You didn’t even need previous work experience. Let’s see how long it takes for you to find a new job in America?”

After I read this, I was done reading. She's just another person who has blissful pride in her country. With that being said, I'm NOT saying that Korea isn't good, but for her to say that the Han River is polluted because of only the American soldiers is just plain ignorance. The amount of trash I see on the street and in alleys and in vacant lots is horrendous. I'm sure she would respond with, well it's all the foreigners who throw the trash there and not Koreans.

For her economic argument, yes Korea's economy is going up, but I have heard that a large number of Koreans are in tremendous debt just like Americans were in 2007-9. Many Koreans can't really afford what they have and are one step away from losing it all. I don't have any facts on that, it's just what I heard.

Her military argument is the worst. NK is poor, but it's poor because they spend all of their money on their military. NK has one of the largest ground forces in the world and some of the best trained black ops soldiers. She says that SK people are trained, they don't even come close compared to the everyday training that NK soldiers receive. Who's going to be better a firing a gun, a person who had 2 years of training and then went on to civilian life for years and never touched a gun thereafter or the person who has had ongoing training for 5 or more years all day everyday?
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edwardcatflap



Joined: 22 Mar 2009

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Dennis Leary is working in Korea?


Bill Hicks
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John Stamos jr.



Joined: 07 Oct 2012
Location: Namsan

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

edwardcatflap wrote:
Quote:
Dennis Leary is working in Korea?


Bill Hicks


Oh, I know. Guess what I said was too obscure... Dennis Leary ripped Hicks off quite a bit, so I was calling you Dennis Leary for stealing Hicks' material.
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fermentation



Joined: 22 Jun 2009

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Too much hype over the label "special forces." Its just a name that gives no real indication of a unit's capabilities. All you need to make a spec ops unit is to get a regular infantry unit, rename it and give them a special ops role, and boom, you got a new a spec ops unit. That's how the Norks increased their special operations forces, by re-purposing already existing units into spec ops.

Anybody who's been in the military knows that being in the military doesn't mean getting badass training day in and day out. I spent most of my time using a broom. North Korean soldiers spend most of their time trying not to starve to death.
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World Traveler



Joined: 29 May 2009

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But North Korea has a "military first" policy, which means soldiers are fed more than the general populace. None of the soldiers are starving to death. When North Korea gets food aid to help starving people who need it, it is diverted to the military to feed the soldiers, and also sold to get more money for the North Korean government.
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fermentation



Joined: 22 Jun 2009

PostPosted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

According to defectors I've met, NK soldiers steal from local farmers to survive.
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rollo



Joined: 10 May 2006
Location: China

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gosh lets see. If the U.S. left Japan which is already rapidly building up its military would increase military spending. China would meet this with more defense spending. Russia which has already bulked up its forces in the far East would send more. Guess where the war would be fought, the same place they are always fought. Korea. But thats okay since we now know that the North soldiers would defect in mass, but what about the Chinese and Russians and of course the japanese. Of course if the U.S. was for some strange reason. Remember they are in Korea because the Japanese, the Chinese, the russians all want them there to keep the peace, forget teaching English in South korea, no more ESL jobs.

Just poorly written with no grasp of the world or with what is really going on.

Just an attempt to bash america. which she is jealous of. The economic stuff is similar. the U.s. is still by far the srongest economy in the world , and seems to be outpacing all the other Western countries right now.
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some waygug-in



Joined: 25 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why is it that so many Koreans will not miss a chance to bash America, but those same Koreans want to move there in droves?
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