N. Korea's special forces capable of striking most targets in S. Korea

North Korea has trained its special forces to be capable of infiltrating and striking more than 90 percent of targets in South Korea, a repo...

North Korea has trained its special forces to be capable of infiltrating and striking more than 90 percent of targets in South Korea, a report said Tuesday, ringing alarm bells over the threat posed by the North's elite troops.

The report, released by retired one-star Army general Lee Won-seung, was based on a series of drills simulating an infiltration by North Korean special forces that hit targets in the South and assessments by former North Korean special troops who defected to the South.

"After witnessing the drills, the North's defectors concluded that North Korean special forces could infiltrate more than 90 percent of important facilities in South Korea," Lee said, presenting the report at a forum organized by the Army.

Lee, currently a visiting professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, urged the South's military in the rear areas to beef up high-tech surveillance gear such as unmanned aerial vehicles or infrared cameras to better thwart a North Korean infiltration.

The North's special forces have been a constant defense concern for South Korea.

Last December, the South's Defense Ministry said in its biennial defense white paper that North Korea increased the number of its special forces troops by 20,000 to 200,000 over the past two years.

The North's elite troops can infiltrate the rear areas of the South by using either radar-evading AN-2 transport planes or underground tunnels, according to the defense white paper.

The North's special warfare troops "have been trained to conduct composite operations, such as major target strikes, assassinations of important figures and disruptions of rear areas" in South Korea, the paper said.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula persist following the North's two deadly attacks last year -- the March 2010 sinking of the Cheonan warship and the November shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. The attacks killed a total of 50 South Koreans, including two civilians.

The two Koreas remain technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

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