Fictional: 0330 Hours, Sugarloaf Key Florida: The Cuban mini-submarine surfaces off the coast having carefully made its way through, the Harris Gap channel under Highway 1 that runs the length of the Florida Keys. It’s now barely 100 yards off the coast, a local tourist trap “the Bat Tower” off to the right. A team of four elite unit commandos hop into an 8 person rubber boat with a small electric outboard engine, built to be quiet. They come ashore, and moving with the quick precision of their elite reputation, by 0430 hours have reached the intersection of Bat Tower Road and Highway 1. They move into the parking lot of the nearby Sugarloaf Lodge, a small resort and wait, unnoticed by the few cars whizzing down Highway 1 at this early hour. At 0538 they see what they are seeking. A young father with two middle school children, a boy and a girl, start loading their car. They are leaving early to catch an early flight home at Key West Airport. The commandos approach, speaking clear and fluent English, and ask the father if he tell them where the nearest McDonalds is. When positioned as they were trained, they strike. Two men grab the father and quickly inject him with a sedative. The other two grab each kid and they are also drugged. Silently, they return to the mini-submarine with their prey. The sub moves further out and slips beneath the waves. The father and his two children miss that flight home, and are never seen again in America.
The above account sounds like a fanciful spy tale. But it really happened to possibly scores of Japanese, including many children. In the 1980s North Korea conducted a series of similar raids, invading sovereign Japanese territory and kidnapping Japanese citizens, apparently to use as sex slaves for North Korea elites and to teach North Korean agents fluent Japanese so they could commit more atrocities.
I know everyone thinks of North Korea as a “rogue nation.” I’m not sure everyone realizes how truly terroristically rogue and beyond evil this monarchist regime has consistently been for decades. Here’s a list of some of the more atrocious North Korean acts of war. I’ve left out numerous border conflicts because there are too many to go into. I’ve also left out conflicts solely between military forces, such as the 1968 seizure of the USS Pueblo (and the torturing of its crew) and the 2010 sinking by torpedo a South Korean ship. This list will focus only on clear acts of war committed by North Korea involving civilians. Incidents occurring outside of South Korea will be highlighted.
1968 — The “Blue House Raid: 31 highly elite North Korea commandos infiltrated into South Korea with the intent of assassinating the South Korea President, and they almost succeeded. Dressed in South Korean military uniforms they got to within 100 yards of the house occupied by South Korean President Park Chung-hee. When questioned by a suspicious police chief they opened fire. A fire fight ensued and the commandos dispersed producing numerous small conflicts in nearby areas as South Korean forces chased them down. Before 29 of the commandos were killed, with one captured, and one escaping back to North Korea, 26 South Koreans were dead including 24 civilians. Four American soldiers were also killed.
1969 — Hijacking of South Korean Airlines Flight YS 11: Two weeks before Christmas a North Korean agent hijacked a South Korean domestic commercial passenger flight, forcing the pilot to fly it to North Korea. The four crew and 46 passengers were seized. Eventually 39 passengers were returned but the North Koreans continue to hold all of the crew and seven passengers.
1983 — Rangoon Bombing: In another attempt to kill a South Korean President North Korean agents placed a bomb in a mausoleum where South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan was scheduled to lay a wreath in honor of one of the founders of Burma (now Myanmar). The bomb killed 21 people and wounded 46 more. The South Korean President was saved because the motorcade taking him to the location ran late. Two of three suspects, all officers in the North Korean Army, were arrested. The third was pursued by the Burmese Army and killed three before he was shot dead. One of those captured confessed, the other was hanged for his role.
1977–1983 — Abductions of Japanese Nationals: During this period North Korea special operations forces invaded Japanese territory (often via mini-submarines) seized Japanese citizens and returned them to North Korea often to never be seen again. While only 17 abductions are officially recognized as such, there may have been hundreds. The abductees were apparently used to teach fluent Japanese to North Korean agents (see below) with young women given as “wives” to high ranking North Korean officials. In 2002 North Korea admitted to seizing only 13 of which they said 8 were dead (though the documentation of death was apparently fraudulent). The five remaining victims were allowed to return. It should be noted that North Korea is also complicit in the abductions of thousands of South Koreans.
1987 — Bombing of Korean Airlines Flight 858: In perhaps the most heinous of these atrocities, two North Korean agents boarded a Korean Airlines flight in Baghdad and placed a bomb in an overhead bin. They disembark when the plane lands in Abu Dhabi. After the plane took off for Bangkok the bomb exploded murdering all 115 on board. The purpose of the attack was to ruin Seoul’s hosting the 1988 Summer Olympics by making athletes afraid to fly there. The two North Korean agents spoke fluent Japanese (see above) and were traveling with the cover story as Japanese husband and wife. Caught in Bahrain, which identified their passports as forgeries, they both took cyanide concealed in cigarettes. The man died but the woman survived. She was sent to South Korea, tried and sentenced to death. However, the President of South Korea pardoned her, convinced she was brainwashed by the North. She remains in South Korea and is repentant. She has written a book called The Tears of My Soul for which all proceeds are donated to the families of the victims.
2017 — Kuala Lumpur International Airport Nerve Agent Assassination of Kim Jong-nam: Less than a year ago two female North Korean agents approached an exiled member of the North Korea ruling family and assassinated him with incredibly deadly VX nerve agent. They smeared it on his face and less than half an hour later he was dead even though he sought medical help almost immediately. They did this right in the middle of the terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, one of the busiest airports on the world.
North Korea’s terrorist acts of war span numerous nations, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, and a plane flying from Iran to Thailand. It has included everything from kidnapping nationals from their homeland to targeted assassination of individuals to the mass murders of planting a bomb on a commercial airplane and the roof a mausoleum.
Think about that and what it means when trying to deal with this country and its unbalanced leaders. If Kim Jong Un will use the most deadly of internationally banned chemical weapons so whimsically and recklessly as he did in a Malaysian airport just last year, what does that say about his potential to use his nuclear arsenal?
To date the world has reacted tepidly to these repeated acts of war. Not once has the response included military force. North Korea does these things, and continues to commit these acts of war, because they can. The consequences of economic sanctions obviously mean nothing to North Korean leaders. The problem will not improve with this terrorist regime’s acquisition of a nuclear shield.