CURRENT CAPABILITIES OF THE NORTHERN KOREAN REGIME (ORE 18-50)

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 EsnMATK op Current Capabilities

"Democratic People's Republic" of northern Koreairmly controlled Soviet Satellite that exercises no Independentand depends entirely on the support of the USSR for existence. At the present tune there ls no serious Internal threat to the regime's stability, and, barring an outbreak of general hostilities, tlic Communists willto make progress toward their ultimate domestic goals. Thc Communist regime ln northern Korea suffershortage of skilled administrative personnel and from weaknesses ln Its 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 ls not substantially reduced or seriously dissipated.

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

thc northern Koreansuperiority in armor, heavy artillery, and aircraft Thus, northern Korea's armed forces, even asconstituted and supported, have afor attaining limited objectives ln short-term military operations against southern Korea, including the capture of Seoul.

Northern Korea's capability for long-term military operations ls dependent Uponlogistical support from the USSR. If thc foreign supporters of each faction were called upon for increased assistance, there ls no reason to believe that Soviet support would be withheld and considerations ot proximity and availability of such assistance would greatly favor the northern Korean regime. Soviet assistance to northern Korea, however, probably would not bo In the form of direct participation of 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 thc active participation of Soviet and Chinese Communist military units, would be able to gain eflective control over all of southern Korea. The key factors which would hinder Communist attempts to extend effectiveunder these circumstanceshe anti-Communist attitude of theontinuing will to resist on the part of southernhe Communist regime's lack of popular support;be regime's lack of trained administrators and technicians.

TheorganlaaUons of the Departments of State, Army. Navy, and the Air Forceconcurred In this report It contains Information available to CIA as Of IS

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ANNEX A

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 linesVladivostok and Port Arthur, andong, common frontier withControl of northern Korea provides the USSR with an advance fringe ofair and naval bases beyond the boundaries of the Soviet Far East In addition, northern Koreaase for eventual extension of 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 thc present time ls the area's economicwhich, although limited, can make valuable contributions to the economy ot 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 thc following objectives:

he establishmenttrong, effective, and obedient Communist governmenthe exploitation of economic and human resources, withelf-supporting, expanding economy within northern Korea;hcof northern Koreaase for the penetration and subversion of southern Korea.

Since the establishment of the "Democratic Peoples 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. Tbe Soviet Embassy at the "capital city" ofis headquarters for the four- to five-thousand-man Soviet mission In northern Korea. The Soviet mission. Infiltrated asthroughout the government, economy, and political organizations, serves as aof northern Korean subservienceource of technical assistance.

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URRENT POLITICAL SITUATION

Indigenous Leadership.

The "Democratic People's Republic" Is under the Immediate controlmall group of Korean Communist leaders whose primary qualification for high office ls loyalty to the USSR and willingness toubordinate role within the pattern of Soviet control. Thus. Koreansoviet backgroundto have been given positions superior to those held by either native-trainedor Koreans who received CommunistIn Yen an and Manchuria, and this Soviet-trained leadership appears to be well knit The intensity of Soviet control, the leaders' lack of strong personal followlngs among the Korean people, and the composition of the present southern Korean Government which makes it unpalatable to possible"nationalist devlatlonlsts" as anprevents either significant deviations or disruptive factionalism.

Except for their loyalty and subservience to thc USSR, northern Koreas leaders 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 thc regimes efficiency and decrease its popular appeal, they do notaffect the stability of the "People'since experienced Soviet advisers adequately main tain government efficiency at the top level and the police effectively control thc populace.

2. Government Organization.

The Government of northern Korea closely resembles that of all otheremocratic facade obscures Its basic totalitarian pattern. Constitutional provisionsopularly elected reprcscnta-

liveesponsiblethe 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 tbe Institutionsby the Constitution, however, point to the transformation of the "People'sInto on "orthodox" socialist state of the Soviet type.

3. Party. Organization.

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 Politbureau Is the regime's major policy-making body. Most of thebureaucrats are drawn 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 lsThe Front and its organizations, manipulated ond controlled by theeadership, 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 controlledroupundred, who provide the indige-

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leadership in the state apparatus and who subject the several thousand pettyintellectuals, and professional men ln the middle bracket of the Party (generally less thoroughly indoctrinated Marxists) to the most stringent Party discipline.

Thc remainder of the Party's membership is four-fifths peasant and one-fifth urban and industrial workers. The support of this vast majority of the Party's members Is maintained through preferential treatment and strictDevotion and loyalty to the Party's leadership, rather than intellectual adherence to Marxism, Is required from this Partythat serves fundamentallyarge baseested Interest ln perpetuation of the regime, rather thanature activist element.

4. Methods of Control.

Both the state organization and theof Korean society depend on firm control of the people and the maintenance of internal security. The police force ls theof primary control. Exclusive of the para-military border constabulary which Is still under the Minister of Interior, there arc some thirty to forty thousand police agents and uniformed police. The formeronstant check on public attitudes and seek out dissident elements. Groups such as former landlords, businessmen, property owners, intellectuals and Christians in the north Korean population are singled out 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 of thc Korean population. Its main effort is directed at concealing the dictatorial nature of thc government, thc extent of Soviet domination and similar aspects ofin Korea, while creating, on the other hand, the illusion of national independence, representative government, equality with thc Soviet Union, and other favorable stereotypes. Material benefits designed to recruit mass sup-

port Include: reforms purported to correct deep-seated inequities in the Korean social and economic system; tbe provision of social and public services on much larger scale than under the Japanese; and specific stateas thc release of extra consumerto counteract public discontent over new economic regulations.

5. Effectiveness of the Political System.

The "Democratic People's Republic" hasfirm control over the northernpeople. Despite weaknesses, thcregime ls progressing toward Itsdomestic objectives oftable, fully socialized state. Its strength and stability are mainly attributable to:igid 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 tho actions ofmasspolice control, supplemented byof persuasion and psychologicallyby the proximity of Sovietohesiveness and loyalty to both theand thc Soviet Union on thc part of northern Korea's indigenous leaders, the bureaucracy, the police, the North Korea Labor Party and thc 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 oflendsdesires for complete Independence and contributes to thc low standard of living, whichasic cause for popular discontentactor contributing to low labor

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Communist system, itself Inherently incompatible with traditional social,and political forms In Korea, assures the rwUtmr* of discontented groups under the northern regime. In the brief period of Communist control, nearly two millionKorean refugees have moved to the south; the great mass of the northerners have not yet appeared receptiveommunist Soviet-oriented state, and Indoctrination In Marxian ideology remains extremely limited. There ls believed to be widespread discontent andamong farmers, for example,among those who formerly owned large or medium-sized farms. The forced labor required on community projects, as well as thc governments collection of large special crop taxes, moreover, has Incurred the resentment of former landless tenant farmers, whosewas actively solicited by means of6 "land reform"r more Christians are strongly an ti-Communist, and considerable discontent also exists among thc pre-llbcraUon middle classes. This popular discontent appears to be largely passive,and In the few known attempts tothe opposition for action, the groups were quickly broken up by the police.

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

because the low standard arises directly and indirectly from other weaknesses In theand cannot be resolved completely so long as the Soviet Union continues the economic exploitation of northern Korea.

None of these problems, however. Iscritical at present either to threaten the USSR's control over northern Korea or to challenge the northern Korean regime's ability to maintain Itself. Northern Korean internal security forces are fully capable ofthe regime In power during the periodfor the reduction of current weaknesses in administration, leadership and production, and the progressive development of moreCommunist political forms.eriod of Internal disorganization, or crises arising from external military pressures, the Communist regime's present lack of popular support docs noterious problem. In the long run, living standards probably will be somewhat Improved, and thc regime'stactics are likely to gain additionalamong the younger generation. On the other hand, while these weaknesses do not seriously impair the Communists' ability to control and develop northern Korea, they do materially reduce that regime's current ability to extend and maintain control over southern Korea.

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URRENT ECONOMIC SITUATION

Organization of the Economy.

Koreans were almost completely excluded from ownership and management wheneconomic system was under Japanese rule.onsequence, theocialized economy ln northern Korea5 proceeded with Uttle internal opposition. The principal Soviet economic objective in northern Korea has been thcof the economy to the requirements of thc Soviet Far East while developing northern Korean resources to provide the maximum of self-support. The USSR has fostered theof those industries producingrequired by its economy and has also sought to overcome thc existing shortages ln 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 thc USSR in all key positionsthehe use of Sovietand engineers in 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 arc under intensive Soviet supervision. Private ownership is confined to smallestablishments and tradingsome mining activities, and agriculture. Even in agriculture, legal title to the landby the Communist regime in the land Reform Program0 still rests with the

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

2. Production and Trade.

By the endombination of Japan's wartime abuses of Korea's arable land and industrial plant and subsequent Sovietand Korean neglect, had reducedKorea's economytate of near chaos. Recovery has been slow, but9 theplant hadignificant level of activity. Today, to Judge by the northern Korean regime's publishednd by scatteredreports, heavy Industrial plant production, while it has 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, in stead, 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 thc Korean economy's capacity to 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 arc practicable.esult of the possession of some Industrial and agricultural surplus, and thc need for basic and end-useelatively large volume of foreign trade Is

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possible and necessary for theof thc northern Korean economy.the area's lack of petroleum and bituminous coal forces the Importation of

both.

It Is believed that northern Korea's balance of payments is unfavorable. Thisbalance probably arises largely from Soviet pricing policies which undcrprlceexports and overprice Soviet exports. Exports to the USSR, northern Korea'spostwar trading partner, are, for the most part, iron and steel, non-ferrous metals and ores, chemicals, lumber, marine products, and grain. Imports are machinery,coal, and petroleum.

Hong Kong is northern Korea's principal non-Communist 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 prod ucts, grains, fats and oils, and chemicals. Lesstrade relations ore conducted directly with Manchuria, North China, Southeast Asia,Japan and southern Korea.

3. Standards of Irving.

The living standard of thc great majority of northern Koreans hasignificant increase from the bclow-subsistence level which immediately followed World War II. Rationing of all foods and basic necessities, which has ensured the meeting of theminimum requirements, hasac-

tor hi preventing development of thediscontent Into active resistance.

The shortage of housing in urban areas, harsh working conditions, low wages, the high cost of consumer goods, and the high taxes on agricultural production are an 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 as ln the volume of consumer goods Imported from Hong Konghile Sovietof the northern Korean economy continues, however, any substantialin living standards will be inhibited.

4. mitation* on 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 willto 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 theKorean 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 tolhe situation,

URRENT MILITARY SITUATION

Korea's military forces are still being expanded. So far as the ground forces are concerned, this process Involves theInto the "People's Army" of local recruits and of Korean troops that have seen service under thc Chinese Communists in Manchuria, as well as the equipping of this force with small arms, artillery, vehicles, air-craft and armor from the USSR.

Trained and equipped units of the"People's Army" are being deployed southward In thc 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.

Current estimates place thc strength ot the "People's Army" (PA)0x-Manchurian troops) organized into at least three infantry divisions and on independent brigade. The PA's critical armsn armored unit, estimated to possess4ivisional artillery units equipped withm gunsm howitzers:nti-aircraft units in the border regions.bO0-man Border Constabularyhich is also beingwith ex-Manchurian levies. Isa paramilitary police force und was previously armed with Japanese wcajwns. The BC has been trained to Infantryhowever, and has now been re equipped with Soviet weapons.

Force.

According to current accepted estimates, the "People's Army Air Force" (PAAF) consists of an air regimenten,ilots, equipped withnd/orwin-enginewln-cnginc

transports, andapanese or Sovietplanes. This estimate may be subject to an upward revision In the 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 of little consequence.

and 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 arc 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 af the militaryHowever, thc Communist regime's military machine alreadyrain on the undermanned northern KoreanAn additional sixty to seventyKoreans who have seen service with the Chinese Communists, furthermore, arcto be available In Manchuria if needed for integration In or loan to the "People's Army."

Thc northern Korean military forces are entirely thc 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 thc southern Korean Army. Air training is probably stillasic stage, however, and there Is no Indication that the

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Regiment has attained operational status. The navy has received less Soviet attention.

There is evidenceontinuing program of sending small numbers of ground and air ofHcers -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 Koreanforces generally appears to be good, and. although factions exist, factionalism Isignificant problem. Troops are subject to

continuous indoctrination and surveillance, and their loyalty ls further Induced by above-average food 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 thc strength of the opposition and the duration of the struggle. In contrast, the ex-Man churl an 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 andayirm backbone for the PA in the event of military operations.

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ANNEX E

CURRENT OPERATIONS AGAINST SOUTHERN KOREA

ultimate local objective of the Soviet Union and of the northern Korean regime is the elimination of the southern Republic of Korea and the unification of the Koreanunder Communist domination. To this end. an open invasion of the Republic by northern Korean military forces has thus far been delayed in favoroordinated campaign Involving political pressure within southern Korea, subversion, propaganda,economic pressure, and military actions by Infiltration of guerrilla forces.

To date, this campaign has succeeded in damaging south Korea's economyerious extent. Thc withholding of northern Korean power, fertiliser, coal, iron, and steel from the southern Republic lias 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 beenin developing large concentrations orthreatening the Republic's Internalliave 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 strategic corridors adjacent 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 thc southern Republic of Korea 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 thc Republic'sto continue effective resistance without US aid.

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