Oct 12 2009

The USS Pueblo / North Korean Special Forces

by in Uncategorized


A few days ago there was a segment on NPR about North Korea. The correspondent had actually been allowed into North Korea, but from what I could tell they are basically shown the exact same thing as us regular tourists. I really should have pursued that foreign correspondent career. I could have been getting paid to go to North Korea instead of using my own funds. Also, I wouldn’t have to dress up for work. C’est la vie.

Anyways, in the past week there have been two interesting WashPost articles about North Korea. The first concerns the crew of the USS Pueblo and their efforts to sue the North Korean government for the torture they endured after their ship was captured by the North Korean navy in 1968:

William Thomas Massie’s nightmares almost always begin in a dusty prison cell. His arms are lashed behind his back, and North Korean guards are karate-chopping his neck, kicking his groin and ankles, and smashing his face with fists and rifle butts.

The frigid room is illuminated only by tannin-tinted light trickling through newspaper-covered windows. The guards are screaming. One thrusts an assault rifle into Massie’s mouth. The soldier’s finger is on the trigger. Sweat stings Massie’s eyes. He is terrified.

The second article details North Korea’s expansion of its special forces and their adoption of terrorist tactics used in Afghanistan and Iraq:

In a conflict, tens of thousands of special forces members would try to infiltrate South Korea: by air in radar-evading biplanes, by ground through secret tunnels beneath the demilitarized zone (DMZ), and by sea aboard midget submarines and hovercraft, according to South Korean and U.S. military analysts.

Disguised in the uniforms of South Korean police and military personnel, special forces are also expected to try to walk into Seoul. Dressed as civilians, they may also arrive aboard passenger flights from Beijing and other foreign capitals.

“These are not your standard North Korean guys,” Bechtol said. “They are the best-trained, best-fed and most indoctrinated soldiers in the North. They know how to fight, and if they are caught, they are trained to kill themselves.”

[...]

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.

Beware North Korean soldiers wielding spoons…


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One Response to The USS Pueblo / North Korean Special Forces

  1. From john:

    Oh no! Not spoons. Yikes!
    BTW, I knew the late CDR Bucher, who was the USS Pueblo’s captain.

    Posted on October 14, 2009 at 4:03 pm #

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