Korea: March 1, 2005


North Korean special forces, a commando organization modeled after the Russian Spetsnaz, are showing unusual activity. This could mean preparations for an attack on South Korea, but there is no similar activity among the regular army divisions that would lead a move south. The special forces could be preparing to deal with civilian unrest, or moving to carry out, or block, a coup. Or both. The North Korean commandoes are largely conscripts, as were the original Soviet Spetsnaz. But North Korean conscripts are in for six years, making them more experienced than their Russian counterparts. North Korean conscripts are, of course, drafted from the general population. But the North Korean people have gone through a decade of famine and increasing privation. Despite some of the most intense indoctrination ever inflicted on a populations, North Koreans are beginning to lose their loyalty to the system they have long believed to be the best in the world. Even commandoes have kin who have starved to death. Its those damn cell phones again. The truth may be able to set you free, but let it loose among thousands of tough guys with guns, and the results can be unpredictable. That same proliferation of cell phones has unmasked the usually well hidden movements of special forces units. 


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