The South Korean military has a plan ready for a sudden collapse of the North Korean regime to raze structures that are symbolic of the personality cult surrounding founder Kim Il-sung and his son Jong-il, it emerged Sunday. The principle is much the same that led to the toppling of Lenin statues after the Soviet Union ended and of Saddam Hussein statues in Iraq.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Combined Forces Command, and the Cultural Heritage Administration have met to discuss the plan, and the military has interviewed defectors to draw up a list of targets like statues and calligraphy engraved on the side of famous mountains.
A military source said a psychological warfare unit started investigating the question in March 2008 and submitted a plan based on the outcome to military top brass a year later.
The plan is apparently to obliterate all monuments to communism except a few that are to be preserved for historic reasons.
A government source said the razing of these symbols would be "essential" to neutralize resistance from remnants of the North Korean army and to stabilize the country as soon as possible.
The military believes there are no fewer than 35,000 statues of the Kims, including the giant Kim Il-sung statue at Mansudae in Pyongyang; about 40,000 pieces of calligraphy written by the Kims engraved on mountains like Mt. Kumgang and Mt. Chilbo; and innumerable portraits of the leaders and a flood of propaganda posters.
The first stage of the plan would be to tear down statues and other structures in prominent places, and the rest would be dealt with later as the North stabilizes.
But some 27 museums like the North Korean Revolution Museum, five memorial halls such as the Kumsusan Palace and other cultural properties are to be preserved or turned into public parks.