Defense intelligence director says N. Korea would win in a one-on-one war

Posted on : 2013-11-06 18:14 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Official says even though the South’s military budget is exponentially bigger, US alliance would be needed to win a war
 director of the Defense Intelligence Agency
director of the Defense Intelligence Agency

By Kim Kyu-won, staff reporter

The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency touched off a furor by saying at a National Assembly audit that South Korea would “lose” in a one-on-one war with North Korea.

South Korea’s 2013 military spending is 33 to 34 times more than North Korea‘s.

Speaking at the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee annual audit of his office at the Ministry of National Defense on Nov. 5, Cho Bo-geun reportedly responded to a question about who would win in a war between South Korea and North Korea by saying, “If we fight as an alliance with the US under the current operational plan, we‘ll win by an overwhelming margin. If South Korea fights alone, North Korea has the superior fighting strength, so South Korea would lose.”

His remarks were reported by the ministry and Democratic Party secretary and lawmaker Jung Cheong-rae.

Cho was also quoted as saying, “We’re not at all in a disadvantageous position, since with a war you also have to think about tangible and intangible fighting strength and national potential.”

On his reason for viewing North Korea as having superior strength, Cho was quoted by Saenuri Party secretary and lawmaker Cho Won-jin as saying, “If you look at our Defense White Paper and figures from the US Department of Defense, North Korea is beefing up its asymmetrical military strength, with a lot of long-range artillery targeting Seoul. It has 78% of its ground forces within 100 km of the DMZ, 80% of its firepower, and 2,000 tanks.”

North Korea does indeed have around 300 long-range cannons positioned near the DMZ, with the entire Seoul area within firing range. The cannons are estimated to be capable of firing up to 10,000 rounds an hour in total, causing a projected loss of hundreds of thousands of lives within five days of initiating hostilities.

For this reason, the ministry and Joint Chiefs of Staff plan to relocate their headquarters from Yongsan in Seoul to bunkers outside of artillery range in the event of an emergency, including ones at the Capital Defense Command south of Mt. Gwanak in Seoul or at the Gyeryongdae complex in Daejeon.

Jung called Cho Bo-geun’s remarks “inappropriate and baffling.”

“I cannot understand how South Korea would lose when South Korea’s annual defense spending of 34 trillion won (US$32 billion) is 34 times the one trillion won (US$940 million) that North Korea spends,” Jung said.

Defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok addressed Cho’s remarks by saying, “We have an alliance with the US, and there is no reason for us to wage a war on our own.

“In a war conducted by the South Korea-US alliance, we would obviously win.”

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