North digging defensive caves along sea border

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North digging defensive caves along sea border

North Korea has been digging protective caves for its long-range firearms in regions on the west coast that were hit during South Korea’s defensive artillery fire after the attack on Yeonpyeong Island last November.

According to several intelligence sources, recent satellite photographs from U.S. and South Korean intelligence agencies show signs of new construction in military strongholds, including caves being built on Gaemori and Mu Island.

The sources also told the JoongAng Ilbo that construction on roughly 10 caves has been completed and additional digging is currently in progress in South Hwanghae Province.

The sources added that public disclosure of this kind of development hasn’t been done before.

“There were casualties on the North Korean side last year because the troops on Yeonpyeong Island beat their expectations and reacted very quickly,” said one South Korean government official. “The caves seem to be a pre-emptive measure to reduce potential damage to its artillery and soldiers should there be another situation like last year’s.”

The caves are connected from within, making it possible for soldiers to go back and forth if one cave is under attack.

Before the caves were dug, North Korean troops kept their long-range guns within structures with steel roofs, said a military official.

“But with the cave strongholds, it looks like it will be much easier for them to take cover after firing,” the official said.

South Korea’s military is currently taking countermeasures against the North’s long-range artillery after the discovery of the caves.

According to several South Korean government and military sources, construction began last year and the caves face north so the North’s artillery can be quickly moved inside and avoid attacks from South Korean K-9 howitzers and multiple launch rocket systems, as well as bombs dropped from fighter jets.

North Korea has roughly 5,100 long-range artillery guns, most of which are placed along the demilitarized zone and the west coast to hit Seoul, according to South Korea’s military white paper.

The North has also finished construction of a military base for hovercrafts in Jangsangot, South Hwanghae Province. The naval base is about 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) from South Korea’s western border islands. Construction of the base was completed near the end of last month, according to multiple sources, and a hovercraft that had been in North Pyongan Province was moved closer to the inter-Korean border.

“North Korea has been conducting large-scale landing exercises on both the east and west coast,” Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin said at the National Assembly on June 13.


By Kim Su-jeong, Jeong Yong-soo [christine.kim@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

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개머리·무도 진지에 U자 동굴
정보당국 위성사진서 확인

북한군이 서해 연평도 맞은편 황해남도 강령군 개머리 진지와 무도 진지에 장사정포 보호용 동굴 진지를 구축하고 있는 것으로 27일 확인됐다. 개머리와 무도 진지는 지난해 11월 23일 북한이 연평도 포격 도발을 감행한 곳으로, 당시 우리 군은 K-9 자주포로 개머리 기지를 향해 대응사격을 했다. 복수의 정보 당국자는 “한·미 정보당국은 최근 위성사진을 통해 북한이 개머리와 무도 진지 부근에 10여 개의 장사정포 보호용 동굴을 완공한 것을 확인했다”며 “현재 두 기지에서 추가 공사가 진행 중”이라고 말했다. 이 동굴 진지는 남쪽을 향해 U자를 오른쪽 90도로 눕혀놓는 공법으로 건설되고 있어 한쪽 입구가 파괴되더라도 통로를 따라 다른 쪽에서 공격할 수 있도록 돼 있다고 당국자는 설명했다.

북한이 근거리 해안포용 동굴 진지 외에 장사정포 동굴 진지도 새로 구축하고 있는 것이 밝혀지기는 이번이 처음이다. 북한은 평소 장사정포를 강철 콘크리트 지붕으로 된 은폐물에 보관해 오다 땅이 평평한 개활지로 이동시켜 포격을 해왔다. 정보 당국자는 “북한은 지난해 연평도 포격 도발 때 우리 해병대 연평부대의 맞대응 사격으로 적지않은 인명피해를 봤다”며 “이번의 동굴 진지 구축은 포격전이 일어날 경우 장비와 군인들의 피해를 최소화하기 위한 조치로 보인다”고 말했다. 북한의 장사정포 동굴진지 구축이 본격화됨에 따라 우리 군도 북한군의 장사정포를 무력화하기 위한 대책을 강구하고 있는 것으로 전해졌다. 북한은 장사정포에 비해 사거리가 짧은 해안포 진지의 요새화도 진행하고 있다.

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