THE LIKELIHOOD OF MAJOR HOSTILITIES IN KOREA

Created: 5/16/1968

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The Central Intclligsice Agency and the. infelt genre orcon:iGtion& oi thamen'1 otndnd ihe 0

Vict! Adm. Ruius Toylor, Deputy Director; Centra) IrHe-.ll.gene*Mr. Gsorgo C. Denney,or the director of Intelligence and Research, De-

It. Oen'. Jo*eph.F. Carroll, tho Director. Dofonw Intelligence.t. Gen. Atarshollarter, the Director, National Security Agency

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Dr. Charlesfcr.thc Assistant General Manager, Atomic Energyand Mr. Will.air O. Cregar, forulttant Director, Federal Bureau of Invauiganon, tho subject be'ng outside of their jurisdiction.

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THE LIKELIHOOD OF MAJOR HOSTILITIES IN KOREA

CONCLUSIONS

twlieve that, under present circumstances, Pyongyangintend to invade South Korea. Nor do we believe lhat, atthe next year or so, Pyongyang will take actions that ithigh risk ofew Korean War.

do talievc, however, that Pyongyang is engaged in aeffort to apply its own version of the doctrine ofto provoke incidents along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)carry out terrorist attacks throughout the South in hopes ofsituation which would, in time, shake the ROK Government'sthe nation.

(.'. Pyongyang might be tempted to go well beyond incidents along thet might attempt to seize andiece of territory south of the DMZ oraid into South Korea with fairly large forces. In general, however, we believe that Pyongyang wouldsuch moves loo risky, especially any attempt to hold Southterritory.

D. Hence, in the short term, the principal danger is thathat the North Koreans will press so hard that Seoul will order large-scale retaliation. In this case, Pyongyang would be likely to respond with commensurate force, and there would be anchance of escalation into major hostilities.

DISCUSSION

he seizure of ihe Ptiebla and ihe attack on tlie presidential mansion tn Seoul, both in lateere followederiod of relative quiet, Sineo mid-April, however, Neath Korean harassment and infiltration in the area uf the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) has intensified, and It appear* that saboteurs havo again been active in Seoul. With the advent of favorable weather, wc expect guerrilla teams to begin moving down the coasts of South Korea in a

renewed effort to establish base* in the mouiilainous hinterland. On thefront. Ihe bellicose line adopted by North Korean Premier Kim Il-song at the6 Korean Labor Party Conference has been uiaultained, with somewhat greater ttuenlcnee since the Pueblo incident. It is apparent,Ihat wentering another cycle of North Korea's campaign of violence and intimidation against the HOK.

We have reviewed Iho available evidence and concluded once again that, under present circumstances. Pyongyang does not intend to invade South Korea. Nor do we believe tluil, at least for the next year or so, Pyongyang will take actions that it considers involve high risk ofew Korean War. This judgment rests in part on our view of how North Korea would assess its prospectsew war. Despite the emphasis on modernizing its armed forces, onreserves and increasing local militia, and on the protection of keyagainsi air attack, Pyongyang almost certainly would not expect toSouth Korea or lo escape .serious damage in the North. The ROK Army Is superior in numbers; Pyongyang would almost certainly consider that tho presence of US forces virtually assured their participation and Iheir reinforcement if necessary; and Nnrth Korea itself would require material support, ond probably manpower, from China or thehus, any planseliberate attack leadingenewal of tho Korean War would require the assurance of support from ihe USSR, China, or both. Under present circumstances, it is extremely duubtfu) thai Pyongyang would receive any assurances in advance from either Communist power that the support requiredarge-scale conflict in South Korea would be available.

More directly, wc do not see indications of preparations of the nature und scope we would export to see if North Korea were planning war or expected it in the near future. 'Iherc is. lor example, nothis nation of chronic .shortages nf unusually large imports of food or medicines, or olher unusual international transactions. There have been rumors of increased draft calls, mobilization of reserves, unusual troop movements and depigments, and the buildup of stockpiles near the DMZ. but none of these or similar indicators nf impending large-scale action are supported by reliable evidence. The "war is coming" tone of letters from North Korea to Japan appears to reflect official propaganda^ such letters almost certainly suit the regimes purposes since all outgoing mail is carefully censored. Finally, if North Korea wereurprise attack, it would scein mi wise to foment tension and keep the ROK and the US on the alert.

Nor do we believe that the North Koreans are trying to provoke tlie ROKesumption of major hostilities. Pyongyang might hope thus to activate its defense treaties with China and the USSR, and also to avoid condemnation by world opinion. Bul wo do not believe that the North Korean leaders would expect either the USSR Or Oruuiiunist China to cooperatehat could overrun Ihe South.

"See Aiiiw: North and South Koican Forces.

Wc do Micro, however, lhat Pyongyangngagedetermined effort tu create the conditionspeoples* wur" in South Korea. Wc also believe thai Pyongyang currently rates the risk* of this enterprise av not very high. The North Koreans probably view tho US Involvement In Vietnam and the resultant discord in the US as limiting the military capabilities und the will of the US lot anv serious HOK reMhaton moIoics .igalnst the North. US restraint in the Pueblo affair probably strengthened this view, and North KoreanprobablyeasonalJy accurate picture of Washington's pressures on tin- ROK to forgo strong retaliatory measures In the Blue House and other affairs.

Thus Pyongyang probablyeasonably safe in creating incidents along the DM/ and In carrying out terrorist attacks throughout South Korea. These neve to gho some crcdroce at home to its claims of "imperialist aggression*evrsoping resistance rnovcinent in the South. Pyongyang also intends them to embarrass and distract Ibe ROK Cosenimciii and tooss of conf&ncc iii its leadersould. In time, lonarn their control of the nation.these actions baseome mixindeislandiitg and *tiJ:ris lietsvetn the HOK and the US.

yongyang might be tempted to go well beyond incidents along the DMZ. It might, for example, attempt to seme andieee of territory south of thorid into South Korea with fairly large forces. We do not entirely rule out suchhey would depend on Ikivv Pyongyang judged the probable reactions of the US and HOK. In general, hosveror, we believe that Pyongyang would consider such moves as tooecially any attempt: ta hold South Korean territory.

Kim's present course of actionis South Korea dale*some indications of long-range preparations for intensified action were visible earlier. After several yean of economic difficulty at home arid consistent failure to capitalize on political unrest In lite South, the frustrated Kim attempted to inject some dynamism into his regime by securing tighter control over the government and driving the pospiiktton to greater efforts iu its behalf. He seems tu have succeeded in pruning much of what he considered deadsvood from tbe goviniment, the party, the military, and theeries of IW-keyed purges has reduced bis leadership groupandfid of trusted comrades, and ken has demanded and t* receiving personal adulation on an unprecedented scale.

Public participation In the regimes many new programs has born fostered (along with acceptance of hardships) by iiatkHUuYslic exhortations to prepare for "the. foremost revolutionarya Communistf the South and rcunifiration on Pyongyang's terms. In Kim's doctrine, the success of thestruggle in the South rrspilies parallel efloits to build up thesc in the North, to improve its economy so thai It will impress the southerners, and tu sticoglhen its defense ngaoisl the day when reactionary forces in the Sooth, in desperation, strike northward. It Is apparent that to make this line credible requires,inimum, some evidence of revolutionary struggle in the Southemonstrably aggressive enemy along the DMZ. War tensions

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apparently prevailing among Ihe northerners are evidence tliat the regime lias achieved some degree ol success in its Indoctrination program.

'litis docs nol mean that North Korea will be satisfied with the mere gernhlunccevolution, in the South. Pyongyang's violent actions inoupled with its longstanding campaign o! political subversion in South Korea, attest to the seriousness of its purpose. Bul Pyongyang probably has littleofovement in the South in the near term. North Korean theoreticians tend to emphasize the iuailoquatc basis foraction in the South and the lime and energy remitted lo develop one. Thus,leadership probably views its current efforts as partong-term campaign to upset the political equilibrium in the South, meanwhilein some measure the existing Communist clandestine apparatus there.

lt is possible that North Korean leaders have persuaded themselves that political and military conditions in the US and iu Korea, as well as in Vietnam, make this year the best timeadical intensification of this rcvohitionarv strategy. In our view, however. North Korea Is not committed to any particular sequence of moves nor to any firm timetable. Pyongyang's propaganda, into tlie- .statements of captured North Korean infiltrators, has invariably been vague on timing; the phrase most frequently used is 'within ourhe North Korean plan of action appears similarly flexible; ROK and US defense measures and other respouscs, and the demonstrated effectiveness of various types ot North Korean operations are the prime considerations. At any rate, to serve Pyongyang's current strategy, the campaign of violence need only continue; there .seemso requirement for escalation to Ihe level of major hostilities.

In this situation, ihe principal danger in the short term is one ofIhat North Korea, in lire process of probing ROK and US resolve, will overplay its hand and that an increasingly oxasperalod President Pak will order large-scsde retaliation. Pyongyang's response in this situation would be difficult to predict with any degree of conCdenee. Ou the One hand, the North Koreans might feel that they liad to accept the ROK retaliation because, at this juncture, the risk of major hostilities would seem too high. It seems more likely, however, that they would feel compelled to respond with commensurate force. '1 hough North Korea woidd probably stop short of actions certain toull-scale- war, the proximity of hostile armies would make the situation highly volatile and war could result.

lo. Inrisis, decisions in Pyongyang and Seoul on any further moves would probably be affected, and perhaps decisively, by the attitudes and advice, of their major allies. In our view, neither the USSR nor Communist China wouldar in Korea to he in its interest. Without flatly refusing Pyongyang all military support, they would probably encourage North Korea to limit hostilities.

H. The Longer Term. In anyeuse and risky situation is likely to continue in Korea well beyond the one year period of this estimate. Kim Il-song

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elatively young man; he appear* lo be in firm control in the North; and his hard-line views arc likely Io hold sway there for many years. Of criticalwill be the ability of ihe HOK people over the years to stand united against Communist subversion, and the ability of HOK forces to cope effectively wilh North Korean harassments. HOK confidence in the face of these long-term Ihroals will depend heavily on the L'S posture in the Far Kail.

ANNEX

NORTH AND SOUTH KOREAN FORCES

The North Korean Armytrength of ahout -I'm"robably al full strength, witharger proportion in combat unit* than (S'KOK forces have. North Korean troop* are uasciphncd, hijrJJy trained, and alert. Br their slandanU they arc prtdiahry combat-ready. We do not know in what extent, if any. their heavy pound cqulptnenl is currently being replaced or augmented by theilh llw exception ol assault rifles and some new toilets, Soviet-designed weapons ol World Warontinue to predominate. Present stockpiles appear sufficient lu sup|>orl ultensive action for atonth.

the South Korean Aimy hasersonnel and the marine force numbersf the total forces,0 are lu Vietnam. KOK units arc limited by old eqiupmenl, shortages of spare parts, and very austere supply levels. The two US divisions In Korea are under strength and not rated as having attained combat-ready status.

On balance, we estimate that neither side has the abtHly to conduct aattackor sis months) orecisive advantage withoutoutiitieal support.

The North Korean Air Force couldtrong d. ln.se against air attack. It haset7 Mig IBs. and at least 60 Almost all of theave probably lieen dcMvtsnd over the past

two yean. Over Ha- pavt three years, the number of-(SA-2)

sites has increasedhere areet light laanbers, which, wilh its fighters, provide North Korea an offensive capability unmatched by the KOK Air Force. Tho ltOKs haveighter aircraft,, but aboutupersonic fighters have been introduced. "Ihe HOK Air Force has been heavily reinforced since the Pueblo Incident hy Ihe basing ofS supersonic |et fighters In South Korea.

North Korean Navy isoastal pulro) and inshoreIts main offensive strength includes atW-elass submarines,7guided missile boats and acsocialed Styi rrussiles. andfastats. The "Kornars" and "Shershens" haveptosided by the USSR over the past two sears or so. Norththerorpedo boats, and there arc atruise missileccqiiplcins. Ihe ROK Navy is alsooastal patrol force;aboutlaps,estroyerast attack0 patrol ships, andmphibious ship*.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

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