Around 00:55 on September 18, 1996, along
the Tonghae Expressway in Kangdong-myun, Kangnung City,
a taxi driver spotted 2 suspicious figures and a stranded
vessel and reported this to the police.
vessel turned out to be a small North Korean submarine,
so the South Korean army and police quickly began clean-up
operations. During this operation, the police
confiscated 4,380 items including rockets used in battles,
M-16 and AK rifles, and forged identification papers.
They also seized steersman Lee Kwang-su, a high-ranking
North Korean official, and discovered the bodies of
11 agents, presumed to be shot dead for botching up
their operation. The South Korean army began search
operations to seize the rest of the North Korean team,
who had fled the scene. Though they found and
killed 13 North Korean agents, 11 South Korean soldiers,
2 police officers, and 4 civilians were also killed.
to Lee Kwang-su, who was captured alive, the submarine
team had been part of the 22nd naval troop for espionage
operations in the South. Twenty-six of them had
penetrated into South Korea in December 1994 using a
300-ton submarine to collect information about Kangnung
Airport and the Yong-dong power generators. Their
mission was to gather information about the South Korean
army to prepare for war, and to assassinate VIPs attending
a nation-wide event in Kangwon-do.
similar incident which took place on June 22, 1998 at
around 4:33 PM, a North Korean submarine was caught
in a fishing net off the coast of Sokcho, Kangwon-do.
Tangled helplessly among squirming mackerels,
the submarine was swiftly captured and dragged to Tonghae
shore the next day by a South Korean marine troop.
contained the bodies of 9 North Koreans, including technicians
and intelligence agents.
to the Central United Press's investigation, 4
of them seemed to have died from self-inflicted gunshot
wounds to the head, while the rest seemed to have been
killed by someone else.
used in this operation was a sophisticated, high-tech
vessel, designed to evade radar detection. It
was an ideal vessel for espionage missions, weighing
70 tons and measuring 20m by 3.1m.
the first time that a North Korean submarine penetrated
South Korean waters since the September 1996 incident
proved that North Korea may appear open and even friendly
on the outside but that they are actually planning for
an all-out attack. Even during the 1996 Kangnung
Incident, economic relationships between the North and
the South had been progressing, with South-funded construction
projects going underway in North Korea.
North Korea had aggravated North-South relationships
with attacks along the DMZ and with their armed espionage
missions to South Korea. Since 1970, there has
been 309 of such incidents, and since 1990, 15 more.
exposed the two different faces of the North Korean