(CNN) – South Korea plans to set up a brigade to target North Korea’s leaders, in event of war. The North says it has one too, to hit the South’s leaders.
Kim Jong Un is dealing with a direct, potential threat to his own life – a special South Korean military brigade, whose mission is to kill him.
A South Korean defense ministry official tells CNN his country is speeding up plans to create what some call a ‘decapitation unit’. The official says the team would be activated only if war breaks out, and would target North Korea’s “wartime command,” led by Kim.
Michael Green from the Center for Strategic & International Studies says, “It’s hard for me to imagine a commando raid – given the enormous killing power and density of the North Korean People’s Army. Far more likely would be something like we saw in the Iraq war against Saddam’s immediate circle: precision-guided missiles, an air campaign.”
The South Koreans’ strike-plan comes after a series of provocations from Kim Jong Un. He’s now threatening to test-fire a long-range missile that could hit the U.S. mainland with a nuclear warhead. And in recent weeks, North Korean media claimed he personally directed an attack drill on a mock-up of South Korea’s Blue House – their version of the White House.
North Korean troops taking cover inside compound; fire in background. Special forces stormed the compound, some parachuting in. They took up positions as the building burned, practiced capturing an enemy.
Former Senior U.S. military intelligence officer Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer says, “Doing rehearsals, showing an imagery of a Blue House attack, is essentially being able to terrorize the South Koreans. And what’s more important, the North Koreans may think about actually trying to attempt this sort of thing.”
They’ve done it before.
In January 1968, armed and dressed in South Korean uniforms, North Korean commandos infiltrated the South, trying to kill South Korea’s president. They got to within 350-feet of the Blue House. But in a furious gun-battle, nearly 60 soldiers from both sides were killed.
If the South Koreans target Kim…how would he respond?
Green says, “I would guess that he doesn’t go into hiding because of this particular statement by the South. But instead he plays it, and tries to demonstrate he’s as prepared to escalate even sooner. And he’s prepared to be even crazier than the South. And he has the advantage that he can make that argument credibly.”
Analysts say Kim has a large network of tunnels and bunkers built by his father and grandfather, if he goes into hiding during a decapitation strike.
Some experts believe the South Koreans are revealing the details of this assassination plan to make Kim more paranoid around him and get rid of members of his inner circle.
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