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Digital Archive International History Declassified

December, 1979

THE CAPABILITY OF THE PUPPET REGIME TO LAUNCH AN ATTACK ON THE SOUTH: A COMPREHENSIVE ANALYSIS

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    South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information and Cultural Bureau reports on the current situation and information regarding the risk of a North Korea attack, North Korea's military capabilities, and the definiteness of a possible of a North Korean invasion.
    "The Capability of the Puppet Regime to Launch an Attack on the South: A Comprehensive Analysis," December, 1979, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, South Korean Foreign Ministry Archive. Translated by Robert Lauler. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/120861
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The Capability of the Puppet Regime to Launch an Attack on the South:

A Comprehensive Analysis

1979.12

Report from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information and Cultural Bureau

Table of Contents


I. Leading Trends in the Puppet Regime

II. Information Regarding the Risk of an Armed Provocation from the Puppet Regime

III. Comprehensive Analysis of the Puppet Regime’s Capability of a Military Attack Against the South

1. Regarding the definiteness of the possibility of a military attack against the South


Factors:

- The International Situation
- The circumstances of the area surrounding the Korean Peninsula
- The situation inside the Korean Peninsula

2. Negative factors regarding the possibilities of a military attack on the South by the Puppet Regime

I. Leading Trends in the Puppet Regime (Following the State of Affairs of 10.26)

1. Opinion regarding the restart of dialogue between the South and North:

- On 11.6 UN Secretary General Waldheim had a face to face meeting with the North’s Ambassador to the UN Han Si-hae and discussed the issue of North-South talks;

- On 11.9 the Rodong Sinmun’s leading story was that talks would restart between the North and South.

2. The US perspective on direct talks:

- 11.21: The Rodong Sinmun ran a critical article calling for the immediate withdrawal of the US Armed Forces in Korea and (their) nuclear weapons, and for the purpose of concluding peace talks between the Puppet Regime and the US, negotiations and dialogue.

3. The Puppet Regime’s diplomatic attaché hosts a conference:

-  As of 12.5, 40 attaches have been recalled from their overseas residences to Pyongyang, and we understand that a meeting is currently in progress.

4. It is being proposed that the North and South have a combined team at the 1980 Moscow Olympics (12.20 broadcast):

-  It is proposed that for the purpose of discussing a single North-South team for the 1980 Olympics, discussions be held between Pyongyang and Seoul at Panmunjom on January 17 1980.

5. The Party of the Puppet Regime held a plenary session of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) Committee (12.18-21):

- Kim Il Sung presided over the meeting directly;

- The Worker’s Party Central Committee, the Military Committee, the Head of the KPA Party, committee candidates, the commanding officers from each rank of the KPA, and government workers attended;

- Kim Il Sung’s speech: doctrine and guidelines for strengthening the KPA politically and militarily;

- Debate and adopted decisions: The decision to have army commanders and government workers attend debates and participate in related decision making has been adopted.

II. Information regarding the Risk of an Armed Attack from the Puppet Regime

1. Intelligence provided by the head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Northeast Asian Affairs Division (provided on 12. 22):

- The most recent circumstances on the Korean Peninsula: both the US and China are losing interest in the Korean Peninsula:

- The US because of Iran, China is preparing for military operations in Vietnam to commence January 1980.

- The Puppet Regime, following the situation of 12.12, stopped all military training exercises approximately one week ago;

- The Puppet Regime’s suggestion to have a meeting on 12. 20 to discuss the creation of a North-South Olympic team bears a strong similarity to the proposal for talks in June of 1950 that preceded the invasion subsequently carried out against the South;

- There is a strong possibility of the Puppet Regime misjudging the surrounding circumstances described above and the incident within South Korea on December 12 as providing a decisive opportunity to invade the South: We believe that the period of time between the end of this year and January 1980 will be dangerous.

2. The resident attaché at the Chinese Embassy, Ryu Yeon-jae [sic] (correspondent for the People’s Daily and also, due to expertise in military operations, a very high-ranking spy) supplied this intelligence (Ryu Yeon Chae- Japanese reporter- Asian Friendship Society Secretary General Ibukki - resident attache counselor Kim Byeong Yeon confirmed) (Approx. 12. 14):

- The Puppet Regime reports that it is fostering the international and domestic environment to its advantage for the purpose of launching an invasion of the South, and that they are advancing the time of the planned invasion to autumn of 1980.

- China cannot control the Puppet Regime’s desire to invade the South;

- China has already alerted the US to the Puppet Regime’s movements and the US has stopped the evacuation of US Forces stationed in Korea, however: when looking at the movements of the American public, who do not wish to directly intervene in the case of war, even the US cannot take any measures;

- The Puppet Regime has moved the time of the invasion forward to autumn of 1980 due to the 10. 26 incident:

- Taking advantage of the democracy movement and economic difficulties, in approximately February 1980 special army guerrilla forces will begin to enter the South and it will be an easy time to begin an all-out attack.

3. America’s U.S. News & World Report 12.24 edition feature story: “Outlook for 1980”:

- One of President Carter’s greatest challenges he will face is 1980 is Asia- we must carefully examine President Carter’s Asian relations plan next year;

- Asia is an arena of competition between the US, the Soviet Union, and China. Asians must monitor how President Carter will handle the strengthening of the Soviet Union’s military power from Vladivostok to the Indian Ocean, Afghanistan, and Vietnam.

4. The US publication Defence Monitor, which is a publication focused on military issues, published an end-of-year special feature titled “The World in a State of War”:

- In Asia, the conflict on the Korean peninsula and the armistice between China and Vietnam remain the largest potential latent areas for a conflict of interest between the US and the Soviet Union;

- The Korean war has not officially ended and the danger of an armed conflict always remains;

- The first time the Puppet Regime invades the South, they will try to land spies against the South (in the South) and destroy tunnels in the armistice region. When the Puppet Regime invades the South, they will also attack the US.

III. A Comprehensive Analysis regarding the Capabilities of the Puppet Regime to Launch an Armed Invasion of the South

1. Positive factors regarding the capabilities of the Puppet Regime to launch an armed invasion of the South:

a. The international situation:

1) The US ability to lead in the global arena is weakening and there is a loss of willpower to do crisis management;

- From the time of the US defeat in Vietnam in 75 until now, there has been a noticeable weakening of US global leadership and a loss of willingness to handle international crises;

2) The relative strengthening of the Soviet position:

- Through the Cuban military proxy war, the African region, Yemen, etc. the Soviets have been expanding their strategic positions;

- The expansion of relative influence into Indochina, Afghanistan, and others is increasing influence in Asia and strengthening leadership;

- Strengthening of military power in Asia and the Indian Ocean.

3) US, Soviet policy focus on Europe:

- The Soviet Union’s blockade of US deployment of Pershing II and cruise missiles to the West (Europe) is part of a delaying tactic and may induce support for limited American direct intervention in a Korean war.

4) Increasing paralysis of the UN’s function as a collective peacekeeping organization:

- At the 30th opening session, two contradictory resolutions on the Korean problem passed the Western bloc and the Communist bloc simultaneously;

- The UN Security Council lacks the ability to enforce the resolutions it adopted to withdraw all foreign troops from Cambodia and get the American hostages released;

- The Soviet Union’s exercise of veto power regarding the problem of the Korean peninsula makes it difficult to expect a resolution similar to the one in 1950 to dispatch UN troops.

5) The possibility of the US and the Soviet Union to engage in limited warfare without fighting:

- The Vietnam War;

- Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia, China’s invasion of Vietnam.

b. The situation surrounding the Korean Peninsula:

- The pros and cons of the Americans and the Soviets:

1) The current relations of the surrounding superpowers:

- In accordance with the way US-Chinese relations and Japanese-Chinese relations develop, the Soviet Union is nervous about the formation of the counterbalance of the three countries of US, Japan, and China to its own power, and we believe the US has a relative advantage;

- Although the Puppet Regime is pursuing individual and equidistant lines with China and the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union is dissatisfied;

- In the event that the Soviet Union actively supports a Northern invasion of the South by the Puppet Regime:

(1) China will increase its support of the Puppet Regime which will create difficulties in US-China and Japan-China relations;

(2) China’s consciousness of the US and Japan as it provides passive support to the Puppet Regime causes difficulties in relations between China and the Puppet Regime;

(3) In the event that the Soviet Union’s active support of the Puppet Regime is successful, countries surrounding China will once again oppose China, and the Soviet Union will be able to gain an advantage, killing two birds with one stone as China makes efforts to form friendly relations with them/

2) The Soviet Union can avoid directly intervening in the war by actively supporting the Puppet Regime, but the US will have to embrace a larger burden by dispatching troops and directly intervening in the war.

3) The domestic pressure of public opinion on the United States government, which has an election coming up, will add to the burden of US participation in a Korean war.

c. The internal situation of the Korean Peninsula:

1) The internal situation of the Puppet Regime

- Reunification by force is vital to the continuation of Kim Il Sung’s deification and the autocratic system:


- Kim Il Sung has maintained his dictatorship for 30 years under the promise of forceful reunification;

- Regarding the situation on 10.26 in this country:

- Kim Il Sung is unsure of himself;
- He may see forceful reunification as a golden opportunity.

- If reunification is not achieved under Kim Il Sung, there is doubt that Kim Jong Il will be able to build a system as the successor.

2) The superiority of the Puppet Regime’s military capabilities:

- At the current time the Puppet Regime has superior military force, but as time goes on the Puppet Regime’s capabilities might weaken in comparison to our own.

3) The economic gap with the South:

- At the current time our country has a superior economy compared to that of the Puppet Regime, and as time goes on we recognize that the gap between our economies may widen.

4) Our internal situation:

- It is possible that with the situation on 10. 26, the incident on 12. 12, the government transition period and the anticipated difficulties with oil in 1980, low trade volume, inflation and other economic difficulties, this time may be viewed as a golden opportunity.

2. Negative factors regarding the capability of the Puppet Regime to launch a military invasion of the South:

1) The existence of the US Armed Forces in Korea and the automatic entry of the US into a war;

2) Doubts regarding the Soviet Union’s active support of the Puppet Regime:

- The Soviet Union cannot be certain whether or not in reality a forceful attempt at reunification by the Puppet Regime will succeed if the US actively intervenes;

- The Puppet Regime, even at the time it militarily invades the South, must choose to weigh the gains and loss of questions about its own influence and of Japan’s nuclear armament and militarization.

3) In the event of direct US intervention it is difficult to expect that China will intervene in response (as it did in during the war in 1950);

4) America, Japan, and China, the three countries surrounding the Korean peninsula, all support the current status quo;

5) The Soviet Union is uncertain due to the strategic countermeasures of the US, China, and the Western bloc against the Soviets aimed towards stopping the active Soviet support of the Puppet Regime:

- If the US and the Soviet Union clash directly we cannot exclude the possibility that it may erupt into World War III.

6) As the invader the Puppet Regime will receive the world’s condemnation and denunciation.

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