CURRENT CAPABILITES OF THE NORTHERN KOREAN REGIME

Created: 6/19/1950

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CURRENT CAPABILITIES OF THE NORTHERN KOREAN REGIME

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CURRENT CAPABILITIES OF THE NORTHERN KOREAN REGIME

Estimate or Cusrikt Capabilities

"Democratic ?ecp:e's Republic" of northern Koreairmly controUed Soviet Satellite that exercises no independentand depends entirely on the support oi the USSR .'or existence. At the present time thereerious internal threat to the regime's stability, and. barring an outbreak cf general hostilities, the Communists Til:to make progress toward their ultimate domestic goals. The Communist regime in northern Korea suffershortage of skilled administrative personnel and from weaknessests economy and its official Party organizations. There is widespread,passive, popular discontent with the Communist government. Despite thesehowever, the regime has, with Soviet assistance, clearly demonstrated an ability to continue its control and development ofKorea along predetermined political,and social lines.

The northern Korean regime is also capable, in pursuit of its major external aim ofcontrol over southern Korea, ofand increasing its support of the present program of propaganda, Infiltration, sabotage, subversion, and guerrilla operations against southern Korea, This program will not be sufficient In itself, however, toollapse of the southern Korean regime and theof Communist control over the south so long as US economic and military aid to south-em Korea Is not substantially reduced or seriously dissipated.

At the same tune the capability of theKorean armed forces for both short- and long-term over: military operations is being further developed. Although the northern and southern forces are nearly equal in terms of combat effectives, training, and leadership,

the northern Koreansuperiority in armor, heavy artillery, and aircraft. Thus, northern Korea's armed forces, even as pres-entiy constituted and supported,apa-ciiity for attaining limited objectives in short-term military operations against southern Korea, including the capture of Seoul.

Northern Korea's capability for long-term military operations is dependent uponlogistical support from the USSR if the foreign supporters of each faction were railed upon for increased assistance, there is no reason to believe that Soviet support would te withheld and considerations of proximity and availability of such assistance would greatly favor the northern Korean regime. Soviet assistance to northern Korea, however, probably would not be in the form cf direct participation oi regular Soviet or Chinese Communist military units exceptast resort. The USSR would be restrained from using its troops by the fear of general war; and its suspected desire to restrict and control Chinese influence in northern Korea would militate against sanctioning the use of regular Chinese Communist units in Korea.

Despite the apparent military superiority of northern over southern Korea, it is not certain that the northern regime, lacking the active participation of Soviet and Chinese Communist military units, would be able to gain effective control over all of southern Korea. The key factors which would hinder Communist attempts to extend effectiveunder these circumstances are: (I) the anti-Communist attitude of theontinuing will to resist on the part of southernhe Communist regime's lack of popular support;he regimes lack cf trained administrators and technicians.

Thc ir.teill3er.eehe Departments of Slate. Army. Navy, and thc Air Force have concurredhis report. It centalsavailable to CIA as of

SOVIET POSITION IN NORTHERN KOREA

USSR's fundamental strategic concern with Korea is positional. Northern Koreahort common border with Soviet territory, flanks sea and land communication linesVladivostokort Arthur, andong, common frontier withControl of northern Korea provides the USSR with an advance fringe ofair and naval bases beyond the boundaries qf the Soviet Far East. In addition, northern Koreaase for eventual extension cf Soviet control over southern Korea, which, if accomplished, would give the Sovieturther strategic advantage in its positional relationship with Japan and consequentlythe position Of the USSRis the US In the Far East. Of Increasing importance at the present time is the area's economicwhich, although limited, can make valuable contributions to the economy of the Soviet Far East.

To assure continued control and to protect and advance strategic and economic interests in northern Korea, the Soviet Union5 has concentrated on the following objectives;

he establishmenttrong, effective, and obedient Communist governmenthe exploitation cf economic and human resources, withelf-supporting, expanding eccr.orrsy within northern Korea;hecf northern Koreaase lor the penetration and subversion of southern Korea.

Since the establishment of the "Democratic People's Republic"nd the withdrawal of Soviet troops, the Soviet Union has maintained the fiction of northern Korean independence and hasits control through the medium of the Communist-dominated Korean Government and associated political organizations. The Soviet Embassy at the "capital city" ofis headquarters fcr the four- to* five-thousand-man Soviet mission in northern Korea. The Soviet mission, inriltrated asthroughout the government, economy, and political organizations, serves as aof northern Korean subservienceource of technical assistance.

CURRENT POLITICAL SITUATION

Indigenous Leadership.

The "Decr-ocralic People's Republic" is under the immediate controlmall group ot Korean Communist leaders whose primary qualification for high office Is loyalty to the USSR and willingness toubordinate role within the pattern of Soviet control. Thus, Koreansoviet backgroundtc have been given positions superior to those held by either native-trainedor Koreans who received Communist in* doctrtnation in Ye nan and Manchuria, and this Sot-.et-trained leadership appears to be well knit. The intensity of Soviet control, the leaders' lack of strong personal following* among the Korean people, and the composition of the present southern Korean Government which makes It unpalatable to possible"nationalist deviationists" as anprevents either significant deviations or disruptive factionalism.

Except for their loyalty and subservience to the USSR, northern Koreas leaden possess few qualifications for the responsibility of high government and party office. They have gained no popular support and despite four years in office they still lack requisiteand technical skills. Although these weaknesses lower the regime's efficiency and decrease its popular appeal, they do notaffect the stability of the "People'since experienced Soviet advisers adequately maintain government efficiency at the top level and the police effectively control the populace.

2. Government Organization.

The Government of northern Korea closely resembles that of all otheremocratic facade obscures its basic totalitarian pattern. Constitutional provisicnsopularlyesponsiblethe key organ In theand other rights and institutions normally associated with democratic government, are Intended to develop popular support for the "People's Republic" not only in northern Korea but in southern Korea as well. Changes gradually being made In the institutionsby the Constitution, however, point to the transformation of the "People'3into an "orthodox" socialist state of the Soviet type.

3. Perry Orgcntzotion.

The organization of the Communist Party (officially known as the North Korea Labor Party)hich parallels thegovernment structure, is similar to the Party in the USSR. Top governmentare all held by NKLP members, and the Party's Polltbureau Is the regime's major policy-making body. Most of thebureaucrats are drown from the Party ranks. The Party is intended to be theelement among the politically passive northern Koreans, Is responsible for politicalelections,and the dissemination ofand is the nucleus for what will eventuallyne-party system. In the interim, however, the fictionulti-party system IsThe Front and Its organizations, manipulated and controlled by the NKLP leadership, and designed to include everyof society, support and assist internal indoctrination and control programs and play an even more important role in operations against southern Korea.

Membership in the NKLP is estimated at between five and six hundred thousand, an unusually high percentage of the totalThe Party is controlledroup ofundred, who provide the indige-

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leadership ir. the state apparatus and who subject the several thousand pettyintellectuals, and professional men in the middle bracket or the Party (generally less thoroughly indoctrinatedo the most stringent Party discipline.

The remainder of the Party's membership is four-fiiths peasant and one-fifth urban and industrial workers The support of this vast majority of the Party's members is ma.ntamed through preferential treatment and strictDevotion and loyalty to the Party's leadership, rather than intellectuale to Marxism, is required from this Partythatundamentallyrge baseested interest in perpetuation of the rejime, rather thanature activist element.

4. Methods of Control.

Both the state organization and thecf Korean society depend on firm control of the people and the maintenance of internal security. The police force Is thecf primary control. Exclusive of the para-military border constabulary which Is still under the Minister of Interior, there are some thirty to forty thousand police agents and uniformed police. The formeronstant check cn public attitudes and seek out dissident elements. Groups such as former landlords, businessmen, property owners, intellectuals and Christians in the north Korean population are slnglod cut by the police (as dissident or potentially dissident elements) and are subject to particularly rigid police controls.

ong-range source of stability, Korea's Communist regime has sought popularthrough the use of persuasive techniques, principally propaganda and the conferring of material benefits. Propaganda, disseminatedide variety of media, reaches every element cf the Korean population. Its main effort is directed at concealing the dictatorial nature of the government, the extent of Soviet domination and similar aspects ofin Korea, while creating, on the other hand, the Illusion of national independence, representative government, equality with the Soviet Union, and ether favorable stereotypes. Material benefits designed to recruit massinclude: reforms purported to correct deep-seated inequities in the Korean social and economic system; the provision of social and public services cn much larger scale than under the Japanese; and specific stateas the release cf extra consumerto counteract public discontent over new economic regulations.

5. Effe-liveness cf (he Political SytJem.

The "Democratic People's Republic" hasfirm control over the northernpeople Despite weaknesses, theregime is progressing toward ludomestic objectives oftable, fully socialized state. Its strength and stability are mainly attributableigid direction exercised through Soviet advisers and loyal Koreanovietaid and technical advice in allomprehensive and highly organized state regulation of political, economic, and social activity, maintained both throughcontrols and through the action* ofor. trolled masspolice control, supplemented byof persuasion and psychological', yby the proximity of Sovietohesive-ess and loyalty to both theand the Soviet Union on the part of northern Korea's indigenous leaders, the bureaucracy, the police, the Xorth Korea Labor Party and the more skilled technicians and workers;he achievement,f substantial increases in production, which have raised living standards inKoreainimum subsistence level.

Despite the strength and stability of the "People's Republic" the regimeumber of Important weaknesses to overcome, major among themack of experienced and competent leaders, administrators,and dynamic activist strength In thehe regime's narrow base ofsupport, which results from the relatively widespread popularovietand exploitation, which offendsdesires for complete independence and contributes to the low standard of living, whichasic cause for popular discontentactor contributing to Ion* labor

The Ccmtr.ur.iit system, itself llshenaUy incompatible with traditional social.omic, and political termsorea, assure the existence o! discontented groups under the northern rejime. In the briefommunist central, nearly two millionKorean refugees have mcved tc the south; the great mass ol the northerners have not yet appeared receptiveommunist. Soviet-oriented state, and indoctrination in Manuan Ideology remains extremely limited. Ther? is believed to te widespreadr.damong farmers, for example,amonj those who formerly cvned large or medium-sized farms. Trie forced later required on cc mm unity projects, as well as the governments collection of larxe special crop Lazse, moreover, has incurred the resentment cf former landless tenant farmers, whosewas actively solicited by means oflandr mere Christians are strongly anti-Communist, and considerable dlsccntent also exists among the pre-llberaticn middle classes. This popular discontent appears to be largely passive,and in the few known attempts tothe opposition far action, the groups were cuickly broken up by the police.

The low standard of living, althoughan economic problem, has its political ramifications. The problemifficult one

because the low standard arises dirtily aridly from otheries in theand cannot be resolved completely so long as Soviet l'n:on continues the economic exploitation of northern Korea.

f these problems, however, iscritical at present either to tnreaten the CSSS'S control over northern Korea or to challenge the northern Koreaa regime's ability to maintain itself. Northern Korean internal security forces are fullyhe regime in powerhe periodfor the reduction of currentdministration, leadership and production,elcnment of mereCommunist political forms. eriod of internal disorganization, or crises aristnj from external military pressures, the Communist regime's present lack cf popular support dees noterious prcclem. In the long run, living standards probably will be somewhat improved, and the regime'stactics are likely to gain additionalamong the younger generation. Or. the other hand, while these weaknesses do not seriously impair the Communists' ability to control and develop northernthey do materially reduce that regime's current ability to extend and maintain control over southern Korea.

URRENT ECONOMIC SITUATION

Orconizolion of Ihe Economy.

Koreans were almost completely excluded from ownership and management wheneconomic system was under Japanese rale.onsequence, theocialized economy ln northern Korea5 proceeded with little internal opposition. The principal Soviet economic objective In northern Korea has been theot the economy to the requirements of the Soviet Far East while developing northern Korean resources to provide the maximum of self-support. The USSR has fostered theof those industries producingrequired by ita economy and has also sought to overcome the existing shortages in consumer goods production and other items presently obtained from external sources. These plans, if successful, would ensure aalthough low level, economy in northern Korea and would also insure increasingto the USSR in their exploitation of the northern Korean economy.

Effective Soviet direction of the northern Korean economy is insuredhe placement of Soviet advisers and Koreans loyal to the USSR In all key positionsthehe use of Sovietand engineers ln all keyhe existence of "joint" Soviet-Korean control over northern Korea's foreign trade.

All major economic undertakings inKorea are planned, financed, and directed by the responsible government ministries which are under Intensive Soviet supervision Private ownership is confined to small com mercial establishments and trading cornpa nies, some mining activities, and agriculture Even in agriculture, legal title ta the land dls trlbuted by the Communist regime in the Land Reform Program3 stm rests with the

state, and thereonsiderable degree of state control over agricultural production.

2. end T'ode.

By the endombination of Japan's wartime abuses of Korea's arable landdustrial plant, and subsequent Sovietand Korean neglect, had reducedKorea's economytate of near chaos. Recovery has been slow, but9 theplant hadignificant level cf activity. Today, to Judge by the northern Korean regime's publishednd by scatteredreports, heavy industrial plant production, vhUe it haa Increased significantlyt isercent below the4 level

Postwar production plans haveeduction In the production of some finished heavy Industrial items, such as pig iron and aluminum, which formerly was geared to Japanese rather than to domestic absorption capacity. Emphasis has been shifted,to the construction and expansion of plants producing basic and end-use equipment and consumer goods.

The current production of iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, fertilizers, industrial chemicals, and cement is still in excess of the Korean economy's capacity te process and absorb. The resultant surplus is exported both to meet Soviet demands and to obtain needed Imports of basic equipment andgoods. Although only spottyIs available concerning the degree ofin the fields of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, these too have apparentlyto such an extent that selected exports are practicable.esult of the possession of some industrial and agricultural surplus, and the need for basic and end-useelatively large volume of foreign trade is

both, possible and necessary for theof the northern Kor-an economy.thc areas lack of petroleum and bituminous coal forces the Importation of both.

It ishat northern Korea's balance of payments is unfavorable. Thisbalance probably arises largely from Soviet pricing policies which underpriceexports and overprice Soviet exports. Exporti to the USSR, northern Korea'spostwar trading partner, are, for the most part, Iron and steel, non-ferrous meUls and ores, chemicals, lumber, marine products, and gram. Imparts are machinery,coal, and* petroleum.

Bongs northern Koreas principal ncn-Commur.ist trading partner,ide variety of imports are sought on that market Chief among these are textiles, basicpharmaceuticals, and selectedchemicals. Korean exports to Hong Kong consist of cattle fodder, marine products, grains, fats and oils, and chemicals. Lesstrade relations are conducted directly with Manchuria, North China, Southeast Asia,Japan and southern Korea.

3. Standard* of Living.

The living standard of the great majority of northern Koreans hasignificant increase from the below-subststence level which immediately followed World War h. Rationing of ail foods and basic necessities, which has ensured the meeting of theminimum requirements, has been am preventing development of thediscontent into active resistance.

The shortage of housing in urban areas, harsh working conditions, low wages, the high cos: of consume: goods, and the high taxes on agricultural production are all majorwhich remain to be overcome before the present subsistence level of living can be raised. Attempts to this end are evident In the Communist regime's current plans forof consumer goods Industries, as well aa in the volume of consumer goods imported from Kong Konghile Sovietof the northern Korean economy continues, however, any substantialIn living standards will be inhibited.

4. limitation* cn the Economy.

Several problems will continue to hamper the Communist regime's progress toward self-support. The most Important among these arises from the fact that the USSR will con-tuiue to support and assist the development of the northern Korean economy only to the ultimate benefit of the Soviet economy. So long as the Importation of bituminous coal and petroleum and the operation of the north-em Korean merchant marine is under Soviet control, the operation of Korea's economy will remain almost completely dependent on theurther major problem faced by the northern Korean regime is the internal one of the Korean people's low level ofSince therehortage of both skilled and unskilled manpower in the north, low productivity can be expected to continue despite the Communist regime's efforts tothe situation.

CURRENT MILITARY SITUATION

Korea's military forces are still being expandedtar as the ground forces are concerned, this process invokes theintormy" of local recruits and of Korean trocps that have seen service under the Chinese Communists in Manchuria, as wall as the equipping of this force with small arms, artillery, vehicles,and armor from the USSR.

Trained and equipped units of the"People's Army" are being deployed southward in the area ofh Parallel. "People's Army" and Border Constabulary units there equal or surpass the strength of southern Korean army units similarlyTanks and heavy artillery have also been moved close to the Parallel in recent months.

1. Army.

Current estimates place the strength of the "People's Army" (PA)0x-Manchurian troops) organized Into at least three Infantry divisions and an independent brigade. The PA's critical armsn armored unit, estimated to possess4ivisional artillery units equipped withm gunsm howitaers;nti-aircraft units in the border regions.man Border Constabularyhich is also beingwith ex-Manchurian levies, isa paramilitary police force and was previously armed with Japanese weapons. The BC has beer, trained to infantryhowever, and has now been re-equipped with Soviet weapons.

2. Air Force.

According to current accepted estimates, the "People's Army Air Fcrce" (PAAF) consists of an air regimenten.ilots, equipped withnd orwin-enginewin-engine transports, andapanese or Sovietpiar.es. This estimate may be subject to an upward revision in thc near future.

The northern Korean navy performs mainlyoast guard force. Present navy strength is estimatedarine unit, whose exact functions are as yetnumbersen. Northern Korean navy shore Installations and ships are cf little consequence.

ond Manpower,

The northern Korean armed forces depend almost wholly on the USSR for logisticRecent reports have indicated,that limited quantities of Soviet-type small arms, munitions, and uniforms are being locally manufactured.

A large segment of the domestic economy Is as yet uncommitted to the logistic support of the armed forces and could provide further manpower for expansion of the militaryHowever, the Communist regime's military machine alreadyrain en the undermanned northern KoreanAn additional sixty to seventyKoreans who have seen service with the Chinese Communists, furthermore, areto be available in Manchuria if needed for integration in or loan to the "People's Army."

The northern Korean military forces are entirely the product of Soviet planning, and depend heavily on the large Soviet military mission for training at higher command levels and for tactical advice down to the battalion level. The PA's state of training isto that of the southern Korean Army. Air training is probably stiltasic stage, however, and there is no Indication that the

Air Regiment has attained operational status. The navy has received less Soviet attention-There is evidenceontinuing program of sending small numbers of ground and air officers to the USSR for advanced training. Soviet advisers to the PA are believed toat; to thend to thenoviet naval personnel are reported to be stationed in major northern Korean ports, to service Soviet naval units and to control port

6. Morale.

The morale of the northern Koreanfarces generally appears to be good. and. although factions exist, factionalism isignificant problem. Troops are subject to continuous indoctrination and surveillance, and their loyalty is further induced by above-average feed rations, good wages, and special privileges. At the present time, the northern Korean armed forces are probablyprepared to fight wholeheartedly against southern Korean troops. Their loyalty to the Communist regime and their fighting spirit, however, would vary inversely with the strength of the opposition and the duration cf the struggle. In contrast, the ex-Manchurian Koreans, whose loyalty wasby the fact of their transfer to the PA, nowignificant percentage of that force. These troops possibly have less feeling of kinship for southern Koreans and therefore mayirm backbone for the PA in the event of military operations.

CURRENT OPERATIONS AGAINST SOUTHERN KOREA

ultimate local objective of the Soviet Union andhe northern Korean regime Is the elimination of the southern Republic of Korea and the unification of the Koreanunder Communist domination. To this end. an cpen invasion cf the Republic ay northern Korean military femes has thus far been delayed in "averoordinated campaign Involvmg political pressure within southern Korea, subversion, propaganda,economic pressure, and military actions by Infiltration of guerrilla forces.

To data, this campaign has succeeded in damaging south Korea's economyerious extant The withholding of northern Korean power, fertilizer, coal, iron, and steel from the southern Republic has been offset only in part by large-scale US economic aid. In turn, the Communist-trained guerrillas operating in south Korea, while they have not beenln developing large concentrations orthreatening the Republic's Internalhave forced the Republic to expend large sums of money in "suppressionand thus have contributed materially to the dangerous inflationary situation In south Korea. Anti-guerrilla activity,has prevented the deployment of some Republican Army units along the strategy corridors ad;acent toh Parallel.

Communist propaganda, especially that which reiterates the theme of unification, probably has little present appeal to theKorean people, since they are basically anti-Communist The Republic'sprogram has also materially reduced the Communists' ability to infiltrate southern Korean governmental and political

Although Communist operations against the southern Republicorea have not thus far produced decisive results, the Republic has been forced to make serious political andsacrifices In order to counter the ever-present Communist threat. At the same time, the cost to the Communists has beenslight, and their ability to continue the campaign far exceeds the Republic'sto continue effective resistance without US aid.

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