N.Korean Elite Sniper Defects

      November 16, 2011 13:22

      An ex-member of an elite North Korean special warfare unit defected across the West Sea on Oct. 30. He crossed the sea on a raft made of tires, it emerged on Tuesday.

      Under questioning by the National Intelligence Service, the military and police, the man, who is in his early 30s, said he had been discharged from the marine sniper brigade five years ago and then worked as a civilian member in a military unit.

      He set out in the raft from South Hwanghae Province in the morning of Oct. 29 and rowed while riding the tidal currents southward. He was spotted by a South Korean Navy ship in waters near Yeonpyeong Island around 3:10 a.m. on Oct. 30.

      A former North Korean Navy officer who defected earlier said, "Members of the marine sniper brigades undergo more than 20,000 miles (36,000 km) of training at sea on floating tubes. The regular North Korean Navy also get swimming training, but it’s much more rigorous for marine snipers so they withstand longer hours at sea eating only chocolate bars."

      The marine sniper brigades are among the top special warfare units in the North. According to the 2010 Defense White Paper, the North has two marine sniper brigades with about 12,000 members. Each brigade has about 3,000 combat troops and the remaining 6,000 troops are backup troops, the former North Korean Navy officer said.

      They are trained to infiltrate South Korea to strike radar facilities and naval bases, destroy ships at anchor, and secure vantage points on the shore using high-speed boats, hovercraft or semi-submersibles.

      They would be the first to be dispatched to the five northernmost South Korean islands in the West Sea in case the North launches a surprise attack, the South Korean military speculates.

      The government is trying to find out whether this man actually served in the North Korean marine sniper brigade and why he decided to defect. A government official said, "Many defectors tend to overstate their experience, so we need to question him further."

      • Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com
      Previous Next
      All Headlines Back to Top