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Home South Korean forces mobilized more than 40.000 soldiers in the search for spies after the accidental grounding of a North Korean submarine off the coast

South Korean forces mobilized more than 40.000 soldiers in the search for spies after the accidental grounding of a North Korean submarine off the coast

16 May 2024 to 14: 04
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South Korean forces mobilized more than 40.000 soldiers in the search for spies after the accidental grounding of a North Korean submarine off the coast
Photo: Wikipedia/Disclosure

The search and capture operation for North Korean spies, triggered by the grounding of a submarine in South Korea in 1996, involved 40.000 soldiers over 49 days, revealing the intensity of tensions and the high level of military preparation between the two Koreas. .

In a dramatic operation that lasted nearly two months, South Korean forces mobilized more than 40.000 troops in the search for North Korean spies after the accidental grounding of a North Korean submarine off the South Korean coast. The operation exposed not only the intense military surveillance between the two nations, but also the extreme preparation of spies to avoid capture at any cost.

On September 18, 1996, an unusual episode marked the already tense relationship between North Korea and South Korea. A North Korean submarine, after an unsuccessful espionage mission, ran aground near the South Korean coast. The incident triggered one of the largest search operations in the country's recent history, involving a force of 40.000 soldiers, as well as police and security agents.

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In the end, only one of the North Korean submarine's spies was captured alive; he later became an instructor in the South Korean Navy

The 26 crew members of the North Korean submarine, all military personnel, abandoned the vessel and tried to flee to the north. However, their presence was quickly detected by a local taxi driver who noticed something suspicious and alerted the authorities. What followed was an intense and lethal manhunt that lasted 49 days.

The operation had moments of great violence. Initially, a group of North Korean soldiers were found dead with gunshots to the head, in an apparent act of collective suicide to avoid capture. Further clashes between South Korean troops and the fugitives resulted in several casualties on both sides. In the end, only one of the spies was captured alive; he later became an instructor in the South Korean Navy.

Questions about the effectiveness of surveillance methods and the readiness of South Korean forces

The cost of the operation was astronomical, estimated at around $187 million at the time, and raised questions about the effectiveness of surveillance methods and the readiness of South Korean forces. Furthermore, the incident illustrated the extreme training and determination of the North Korean agents, who were prepared to die rather than surrender.

This episode highlights not only the complexities of military surveillance and espionage on the Korean peninsula, but also the persistent hostility and distrust between the two Koreas. Even today, these relationships continue to influence security and politics in the Asia-Pacific region.

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