Sacrificing His Core Supporters in a Race Against Defeat
Last year both South and North Korea celebrated the twentieth anniversary of their establishment as separate political entities. Each had, at its inception, claimed the entire Korean nation as its legitimate domain, and each vowed to rid the other of the foreign power that was said to have created it. The year 1968 was also an anniversary of two other events. It was the 4300th anniversary of the legendary founding of the Korean nation, and the 1300th anniversary of the Silla Unification in A.D. 668, when the nation was brought under a single, centralized political rule. The irony of commemorating concurrently two decades of cold-war division and thirteen centuries of unified nationhood under a highly centralized political system was not lost on the Korean people.
The three dynasties which had ruled Korea during its thirteen-hundred years of unification had brought about one of the most completely homogeneous nations in the world. No minority ethnic groups are present within the borders of Korea, which for centuries have remained unchanged. Almost every other nation in the modern world is faced with problems of ethnic division; in Korea, one national ethnic group has been divided between two régimes. The long historical period of unification also brought Korean linguistic and cultural unity. The minor distinctions of speech from one region to another are not greater than the differences in English spoken in Texas and Maine. Unlike most of the "emerging nations," there are no language barriers in Korea. Furthermore, there are no religious divisions of any significance. A large majority of the population belong to no organized religion; systems of belief and ethics have been transmitted almost exclusively through the family. Finally, until 1945 Koreans had been under a common political and social system throughout the peninsula for thirteen centuries.
Forty years of alien rule by the Japanese aroused a zealous sense of nationalism in the Korean people. It was stimulated by Japan's efforts to wipe out the national language, to outlaw the teaching of Korean history and to impose discrimination against the Koreans in education and employment. Predictably, the Korean reaction was a fiery defense of the national heritage and national identity, especially in view of the fact that the Koreans had historically considered the Japanese to be their cultural inferiors, as Chinese culture had been transmitted to the Japanese islands by way of Korea. This aroused sense of Korean nationalism is a heritage with which the North Korean leaders (no less than those in the South) must reckon in order to remain in power.
Kim Il-sung, the rotund leader of the North Korean régime, was born under the name Kim Song-chu on the outskirts of Pyongyang. His family emigrated to Manchuria during his early childhood. According to Kim's official biographers, his father was a medical doctor, a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine, who was captured and tortured to death by the Japanese for Korean independence activities. Whatever the unverified truth of this story, Kim became involved in communist activities in Manchuria after his father's death, and spent a few months in jail at the age of seventeen- perhaps the cause of his apparent failure to graduate from high school. At twenty, he joined the Chinese Communist Party, operating in Manchuria, and became involved in guerrilla activities there during the mid-1930s. Eventually, he became the commander of a small unit, using the name Kim Il- sung, which he borrowed from a legendary Korean hero.
On one occasion in 1937, when he was twenty-five, Kim and about one hundred followers actually penetrated into Korea to the border town of Pochunbo, caught the Japanese off guard and destroyed the village. This skirmish has been exalted as a famous "battle" in North Korea's rewriting of the history of the independence movement, as Kim seeks to capture the mantle of Korean nationalism. By 1941, the Japanese had defeated the harassing guerrillas (whom they called "bandits") in Manchuria, and Kim and a handful of followers retreated into the Soviet Union. Entering a training school there, they emerged in 1945 as officers in the Soviet Army (Kim is said to have been a major) and returned to North Korea, where the Russians installed their Manchurian candidate at the helm of the Soviet-sponsored régime, backed by Russian occupation forces.
Originally imposed upon North Korea by external forces, and ruling less than one-third of the Korean populace, the North Korean régime is now well aware of the necessity of identifying itself with Korean nationalism in order to survive. In an effort to secure a nationalist image, Kim Il-sung has become the center of a cult of personality of ludicrous extremes. The "life and works of Kim Il-sung," which involve a heroic legend of his independence activities during the Japanese rule, must be absorbed by the populace in Leader Study Centers provided for all citizens (including Koreans in Japan). A sample extract from the Pyongyang press refers to him as:
. . . the great Leader of the 40 million Korean people [North Korea has only 13 million], peerless patriot, national hero, ever-victorious iron- willed genius-commander and one of the outstanding leaders of the international communist movement and working-class movement, who had been confidently leading our revolution solely along the one road of victory, pulling through in person all storms, and taking upon himself the destiny of the fatherland and the nation for 40 years and more since he started his revolutionary activities in the early years.
Each time Kim's name is mentioned, the whole formula must follow again. The consequence is that every article is filled with continuous repetitive verbiage, leaving little space for anything else. Gaps are filled with odes and poems such as "Kim Il-sung is the Red Sun." Yet unlike Lenin, Mao Tse- tung or Ho Chi Minh, Kim's achievements before his sudden thrust into leadership were negligible, his "thought" is devoid of a hint of originality and his claimed commitment to the national interests of Korea is questionable, except where they serve the advancement of his own political career.
No government, in either North or South, can secure permanent legitimacy in a divided nation. So long as the division persists, Kim's position can be continuously undermined by the existence of an alternative focus of loyalty in the South. The continued possibility that one régime may be able to "outbid" the other in the competition for national loyalty derives from the influence of a nationalism which denies the legitimacy of the national division. Therefore each régime must go out of its way to "prove" that it alone represents genuine nationalism and that the other is a foreign puppet. North Korea must depict the Southern government as a "stooge of American imperialism," just as the ROK government must paint the Kim Il- sung régime as a "puppet of international communism." Indeed, the Southern government is no less pressured than is the Northern one to lay out a timetable for the national unification.
Recent crises-the attempted assassination of South Korea's President Park Chung Hee by a North Korean commando unit in January 1968, the capture of the American intelligence ship Pueblo and its crew two days later, the shooting down of the American EC-121 reconnaissance plane in April of this year, and the increasing harassment of South Korea from the North through stepped-up infiltration and shooting incidents-these provide indirect confirmation that North Korea's overall policy aims have not altered. Kim has mapped a consistent path for reconciling the basic needs of his survival with the reality of national division. To the extent that these conflict, the régime is left with little alternative but to pursue an aggressive policy to eliminate the division.
One of the costs is the tremendous burden of defense expenditures which drain the economies and manpower of both North and South. With a population of only 13 million people-as opposed to South Korea's 30 million-the cost to North Korea of maintaining an army poised against the South is overwhelming. The extent of the military burden is dramatically illustrated by a comparison with Communist China: although the total population of Korea is about 5 percent of the population of Communist China, the standing armies of North and South combined total one million men-which is over one- third the size of Red China's standing army. These figures do not include the "people's militia" of the North, whose claimed strength is 1,300,000, or the "home guard" of the South, just being formed, whose total strength is to be 2,000,000. Korea almost certainly carries the heaviest per capita military burden in the world; its two armies, exclusive of the militia forces, constitute the fourth largest standing army in the world, topped only by those of the United States, the Soviet Union and Communist China. (South Korea alone has the fifth largest standing army, the fourth place being held by India.) The two Germanys, with almost twice Korea's population, have less than half the combined armed strength of the two Koreas. Indeed, North Korea must be the most thoroughly militarized society in existence; it maintains an army more than two-thirds the size of South Korea's from a population not much greater than one-third that of the South, and its military expenditures are estimated at more than two and one- half times the defense budget of the South (in part due to the fact that North Korea invests heavily in military production). It is no wonder that Pyongyang's behavior appears erratic and that pressure to remove the cause of these conditions-the existence of an alternative government in the South- should lead to plans of war.
Korea was separated into two zones of operation in 1945 for the purpose of accepting the Japanese surrender. Russian troops which had entered the war in East Asia only a week before the Japanese surrender, occupied the area north of parallel 38°; American troops moved into the South a month after the war had ended. When the two superpowers departed in 1948, after three years of military rule, Korea was a divided nation.
The Soviet Union, utilizing Kim Il-sung and his small entourage, and a large contingent of Soviet-Koreans (Soviet citizens of Korean ethnic origin), quickly created a régime in the North. Kim assumed the post of first secretary of the North Korean Communist Party in December 1945; by February 1946, he was also chairman of the central "People's Committee," later to become the Council of Ministers (Cabinet). Thus, even before the opening in May 1946 of the futile U.S.-Soviet negotiations designed to create a unified trusteeship government, Kim had already been placed in a position of dual power.
In the early days of the Kim régime, subordination to Moscow was complete. Soviet-Koreans, still members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, acted on the orders of their superiors from home. It was only with the outbreak of the Korean War, and the entrance into Korea of Chinese "volunteer" troops, that Kim was able to begin the consolidation of internal political control which ultimately enabled him to resist blatant Soviet domination. Consolidation was effected in three stages. In the early war years, Kim managed to mobilize anti-Soviet sentiment among new recruits into the party to diminish the influence of the Soviet-Korean hierarchy; this anti-Soviet sentiment had developed as a result of Soviet unwillingness either to commit troops to North Korea's defense or to provide adequate air cover for the invasion of the South. His maneuvring apparently had the backing of the Chinese-trained Koreans and probably the tacit support of the Chinese military.
The second stage of Kim's consolidation was his purge, at the close of the war, of the major South Korean Communists who had been brought into the party in the North prior to the invasion. A number were executed-among them South Korean Communist Party chief Pak Hon-yong, one of the founders of the original Korean Communist Party established in 1925. No internal rival to Kim Il-sung would be tolerated.
So long as Chinese Communist troops remained in North Korea, Chinese policies were emulated in many fields. Collectivization of agriculture began concurrently with that in China, and followed the same "three-stage" pattern. When China took its "Great Leap Forward," North Korea undertook its parallel Ch'ollima ("Flying Horse") campaign. The acceptance of Chinese support in carrying out these policies did not bring North Korea under Chinese domination, but rather created an independent power base for Kim. Collectivization resulted in effective political reorganization and the emergence of a new élite owing its existence neither to the U.S.S.R. nor China but to the Pyongyang régime under Kim Il-sung.
In 1956, at the start of the move toward de-Stalinization, the Soviet Union acted to restore its control over the North Korean party. Under the guise of "collective leadership," the Russians encouraged a restoration of Soviet- Koreans in the higher party hierarchy. It was Leonid I. Brezhnev, representing the U.S.S.R. at North Korea's Third Party Congress, who told the North Koreans that they would have to establish collective leadership in the party and modify their economic plans. Encouraged by this apparent Russian endorsement, Soviet-Koreans and the Korean Communists from China began to criticize Kim Il-song's "cult of personality." In retaliation, they were purged from the party, but were then taken back, reportedly at the urging of Russia's Anastas Mikoyan and China's then Defense Minister P'eng Teh-huai, who commanded the Chinese forces in Korea (and was later purged himself, presumably for being too close to Moscow). As soon as Chinese troops withdrew in 1958, however, a thorough purge-the third stage of Kim's political consolidation-removed all the Soviet-Korean and China- trained Korean members known to be associated with the "anti-Kim" move. Since then, Kim's control has remained essentially unchallenged, and today the top leaders are all drawn from those who were associated with Kim in Manchuria before 1945; since October 1966, the Party Secretariat has been entirely composed of these Manchurian-Koreans.
Although the Pyongyang régime is committed to communism, it has not been able to avoid severe conflict with both of its giant neighbors. Given its geographic location bordering on the two most powerful communist régimes and its military and economic dependence on both, it is inevitable that North Korea should have found itself in a difficult position when the Soviet Union and Communist China were suddenly at each others' throats. Walking the tightwire between the two disputants, both of whose support Pyongyang needed, proved increasingly difficult. An even more important problem in North Korea's relations with its communist allies, however, has arisen from the discrepancies between the exigencies of rule in North Korea and the foreign policy objectives of both the U.S.S.R. and China. The major difficulties have resulted from Kim Il-song's commitment to unification under his rule.
During the Korean War the unwillingness of the Soviet Union to press for Korean unification at the risk of major war with the United States was unmistakably demonstrated. Russia's call for an armistice meeting in 1951 enabled Kim to mobilize internal resentment against the Soviet-Koreans who had controlled the régime, and to assume the actual decision-making himself. The Russian attempt to create "collective leadership" in 1956 further antagonized North Korea's rulers, for it would have undermined Kim's own power and the unity of leadership needed to carry out an effective offensive policy.
After the armistice Kim attempted to create an independent economic base in North Korea, despite Soviet insistence on integration of the economies of the communist-bloc countries; he stated quite bluntly that without economic independence North Korea could not hope for political independence. Apparently convinced that the U.S.S.R. would not again endorse an attempt at military reunification of the country, North Korea hoped to achieve a capability to fulfill its goals by unilateral action.
When the Soviet Union failed to reverse North Korea's policy through economic pressures, it cut off economic aid in 1963. North Korea charged the Soviet Union with economic imperialism, and in an angry diatribe called the Russians "great-power chauvinists" who think that everyone else is ignorant and therefore can be ordered around. The U.S.S.R. then discontinued its military assistance.
Throughout the North Korean-Soviet dispute, Peking, involved in its own split with Moscow, sided with Pyongyang; and conversely, by virtue of its antagonism toward the Soviet Union, North Korea appeared to be endorsing the Chinese position. In 1965, however, Kim Il-song's régime and that of Mao Tse-tung came to a parting of the ways. The break was apparently the result of the U.S. commitment of troops to South Viet Nam and the effect of the Viet Nam war on South Korea, Seoul agreed in 1965 to send forces to South Viet Nam, dispatching some of them as early as September of that year and doubling its commitment in 1966. In exchange for its troops, South Korea began to receive increased military assistance from the United States. American support of South Viet Nam generated growing confidence in the willingness of Americans to defend South Korea, and brought new strength to the South Korean economy. Foreign investment began to flow in, and foreign loans became available to the Seoul government on favorable terms. Korean production of some materials for the war (e.g. combat boots) helped boost the economy. The evidence of real economic achievements and the American recognition of South Korea as an important Asian ally gave rise to a new South Korean élan.
All of this had a crushing effect on North Korea and seemed particularly serious because South Korea's military was receiving some modern weaponry, while North Korea was no longer getting military aid from Russia. Especially in view of his expansive goals, Kim Il-song could not afford to allow the North's military capacity to fall far behind that of the South. America's stepped-up assistance to South Korea was dashing North Korea's hopes of appealing to South Koreans on the basis of its superior economic achievements; without Soviet assistance the North's economy was faltering at the same time that South Korea was making genuine progress. Yielding to the pressure of strategic circumstances Pyongyang began to reconcile its differences with Moscow.
Swallowing its pride, Pyongyang accepted the advances being made by the post-Khrushchev government in Moscow, although Leonid I. Brezhnev, the man who had instigated the move to undermine Kim Il-song in 1956, now headed the Soviet Party. In 1965, North Korea and the Soviet Union concluded an agreement for military assistance, which was followed in 1966 by renewed economic aid. In view of old resentments and conflicting objectives, however, this reconciliation can be only temporary. North Korea continued to insist on its independence from Moscow, and, indeed, did not attend the summit meeting of communist parties held in Moscow last June, despite the fact that its relations with Peking were now acrid.
The goal of unification seemed to Kim so overriding, and its achievement would give him a so much better base from which to resist the tremendous pressures of his erstwhile allies, that he was willing to risk rupturing his country's ties with both China and Russia in order to achieve his objective.
North Korea's rulers have taken to heart the communist commitment to "transform" the economy and the society. Even before the Russian occupation troops had been withdrawn from North Korea and the government formally inaugurated, nationalization of industry, land reform and political and administrative reorganization had been carried out. Almost immediately the régime began to adopt economic plans, though only on an annual basis. Tremendous difficulties were encountered: not only was the previous integration with the Japanese economy ended, but the national division resulted in shortages of agricultural commodities and consumer goods produced in the South. Furthermore, the Soviet Union apparently took advantage of its dominance to exploit the resources of the peninsula- according to Kim Il-song's later accusations. The lack of adequate technicians, skilled labor or trained managerial personnel was also a tremendous handicap. As if this were not enough, the Korean War devastated the industrial base left by Japan. North Korea's first postwar economic plan, of three years' duration, could do little more than restore production to 1949 levels, even with the help of large amounts of economic aid from the Soviet Union, China and Eastern Europe.
The second postwar economic plan, North Korea's only Five Year Plan, was designed, according to party spokesmen, to create a socialist economic base, both in industry and agriculture. In 1958, midway in the plan, the Ch'ollima campaign was launched. Like China's Great Leap Forward, it was designed to mobilize the people for rapid increases in production. Economic growth was in fact quite rapid, and most of the plans were fulfilled more than a year ahead of schedule, although the consequence was a breakdown in coördination of different economic sectors and exhaustion of machinery and manpower. By 1960, North Korea was bragging that it would soon catch up with Japan in per capita production of some industrial products, including steel.
The overwhelming concentration of investment in heavy industry in the first two postwar plans produced dynamic industrial expansion but also resulted in an extreme shortage of consumer goods and a slow rate of growth in the agricultural sector. By the end of the Five Year Plan, sufficient housing had not yet been constructed to replace that destroyed in the war, and agricultural production had declined in proportion to the population. The goods available were of poor quality, and the press continually complained about work teams which over-fulfilled their quotas with goods of such poor workmanship that they were unusable.
As much to increase political control as to expand agricultural production, the postwar plans also provided for rapid collectivization of farms. Although this policy was not undertaken on a significant scale until 1954, by 1956 80 percent of all farmers had ceased to be classified as "private," and by 1958 all farmers were organized in collectives. Large numbers of farm workers were shifted into industry and the bureaucracy. Whereas in 1946 74.1 percent of the population had been farmers and in 1953 66.4 percent, by 1958 less than half were employed in agriculture and the proportion continued to decline. By 1960, 38.3 percent of the work force was classified as industrial. Between 1953 and 1967, the urban population grew from 17.7 percent to 47.5 percent of the total. The increase in central political control thereby achieved was evident from the tremendous growth of the Workers' (Communist) Party. From 366,000 members in 1946, and 750,000 in 1948, the party grew to 1,164,945 in 1956. By 1967, its 1,700,000 members constituted 13.7 percent of the population, higher than in any other communist society-more than five times that of Communist China. Kim Il-song justified the unusually large number of members on the ground that they would be needed to carry out the reunification of Korea.
The major occupational and geographic shifts which took place during the 1950s significantly uprooted old patterns of life and replaced much of the previous dependence on the family and clan with dependence on the political régime. Universal elementary education has created a literate, if highly indoctrinated, populace. The complete elimination of the Chinese writing system in favor of the 24-letter, purely phonetic Korean alphabet (originally invented in the fifteenth century by a Korean king interested in the science of linguistics) has made reading and writing readily accessible to all. And universal compulsory vocational education at the junior-high level was recently introduced, in order to instill in every member of society the mentality of a "worker."
The Seven Year Plan was introduced with much fanfare at the Fourth Party Congress in September 1961. Spokesmen for the government endorsed the plan as one which would insure North Korea's economic independence, provide a comfortable standard of living for all and prepare the way for national reunification. Almost immediately the plan ran into difficulties. Only the steel and electricity sectors seemed able to meet their annual quotas (based on annual growth rates in 1960). By 1964, after the termination of Soviet economic assistance, the plans had obviously been laid aside, and goals were set lower than the (unfulfilled) annual plans for 1963-in some cases lower than the realized output of 1963.
The end of Soviet military assistance destroyed any hopes of recouping the shattered plans. Citing what he said was the increasing hostility of the United States, Kim Il-song announced that the economic plans would have to suffer because of the need for greater military expenditures. Statistics on production, which during the 1950s had filled the newspapers and journals of the North, began to disappear from the press and were replaced by articles on "American atrocities," "South Korean militarists" and North Korea's need for an improved defense posture.
Renewed Soviet economic assistance in 1966 was accompanied by an extension of the Seven Year Plan to 1970. Statistics did not reappear, however, and as recently as last March, Kim Il-song stated that economic planning in North Korea was "unsatisfactory." Current economic difficulties have led to attempts to divert popular attention to external crises. Kim cannot help but reflect that national unification would give him a more viable economic base.
Kim Il-song has made it clear that he intends to unify Korea, under his leadership, by the time of his hwan-gap, or sixtieth birthday. In Korea, the sixtieth birthday has traditionally marked the end of an individual's first life cycle and the beginning of his second. A person's life goals should have been fulfilled by the time he reaches his hwan-gap. Kim was born on April 15, 1912; since Koreans count the first year of life (before the first birthday) as age one, he has only until early 1971 to fulfill his "life goal." Failure to achieve his objective would mean a loss of face rarely courted by an oriental leader.
A Westerner may easily dismiss this non-rational system of policy-planning; to a Korean, it is not only credible but familiar. For example, did not President Syngman Rhee, despite his Princeton Ph.D. and forty-year residence in the United States, promote as his successor Lee Ki-pung, a fellow clansman of the succeeding clan generation, much as a traditional monarch without heir would have chosen his successor? (Lee committed suicide when Rhee was forced to resign.) South Koreans were not being irrelevant when they knowingly observed that the American EC-121 was shot down on Kim Il-song's birthday. Therefore, the significance of Kim's hwan- gap is a part of the war of nerves with the South.
The selection of 1971 as the deadline for political unification is not based solely, however, on Kim's adherence to traditional cultural concepts. The year 1971 is a significant one for many reasons. In South Korea, a Presidential election is to be held, involving either an acute succession crisis or a divisive political fight to amend the constitution so that President Park may seek a third term-or both. Furthermore, American economic aid to South Korea is scheduled to be discontinued, and U.S. military assistance has been declining for some time, despite occasional increases in response to a crisis. U.S. military aid to South Korea declined from 72.4 percent of the national defense expenditures of the Republic of Korea as recently as 1962, to 26.7 percent in 1968. The increases in the financial burden of maintaining the world's fifth largest army and creating a national militia are surely enough to absorb the economic gains which the country has made in the past few years, leaving little actual improvement in the living standards of the South Koreans. Indeed, in recent talks with South Korean inductees, I found the most common complaint to be perpetual hunger, indicating that the South has begun cutting vital corners in its defense outlays. Another factor is that the first payments on many of the loans taken out by the South Korean Government during the euphoria of rapid economic growth in the first years of the Viet Nam crisis will fall due in 1971.
North Korea's current economic plan will end in 1970 and its military aid agreement with the Soviet Union will also expire then. Under this agreement, North Korea has acquired considerable military equipment, including 500 jet fighter planes, about 60 of them MIG-21s. The end of the economic and military aid agreements will give Kim the choice of recommitting himself to subservience to the U.S.S.R., or moving against the South immediately, before his large-scale hardware becomes obsolete or worn down. (Unlike the South, North Korea can produce most of its small-scale weaponry and ammunition.) Certainly, if Kim seriously intends to make another attempt to reunify Korea by military means, he must see the advantage in acting before American forces have been withdrawn from South Viet Nam. Also, controversy over the U.S.-Japan security treaty and the return of Okinawa may arouse opposition in the United States and Japan to America's Asian involvement, and complicate the movement of American forces in East Asia. Finally, Kim might be inclined to take advantage of recent trends in American public opinion: if public reaction was responsible for the cessation in the bombing of North Viet Nam, it might well prevent an American bombing of North Korea in retaliation for acts against the South. If the United States should also prove unwilling to cross the DMZ into North Korea again, in view of the fact that Pyongyang concluded bilateral defense treaties with both the Soviet Union and Communist China in the summer of 1961, then the North Korean régime might feel it would not be risking much by launching an offensive.
North Korea has been preparing its people for a renewal of war. Appealing to the reservoir of Korean nationalism, Kim Il-song has introduced as a policy slogan the concept of chu-che, roughly translatable as "autonomy." Pointing out that Korea cannot rely on others and yet maintain its own independence, Kim calls for both resistance to Soviet and Chinese intervention and an aggressive push to drive American influence out of the South. "It is clear that we cannot make a revolution by relying on others," he says, "and that no one can make the Korean revolution for us. . . . Chu- che in ideology, independence in politics, self-reliance in economy, and self-defense in national defense-this is the stand our Party has consistently adhered to." Under the slogan, "A Gun in One Hand and a Hammer and Sickle in the Other," every man and woman has been exhorted to be ready for mobilization against an "American invasion," and a militia of "Workers- Peasants' Red Guards," with a total strength of 1,300,000, has been formed of men and women between the ages of 17 and 45, each armed with a rifle manufactured in the North. In Pyongyang and other major cities, underground concrete bunkers and air-raid shelters have been constructed.
At the same time, offensive training for infiltration activities has been expanded. According to the accounts of Kim Shin-jo, the captured member of the unit sent to assassinate President Park, the key infiltration group, the élite 124th Unit of the North Korean Peoples' Army (NKPA), formed entirely of 2,400 officers and placed directly under the Chief of Staff of the NKPA, is divided into eight sections, each with responsibilities for a province in South Korea. Reports of other defectors and captured infiltrators indicate that the unit is intended to gather information, recruit adherents in mountainous areas of scant population and form an underground party. One infiltration tactic has been to include in four-man units one individual with relatives in the South. The aim is to secure coöperation of Southerners by threatening harm to remaining members of the family in North Korea. (Despite this tactic, infiltrators who make themselves known to their relatives are ordinarily turned in to the police.)
In 1968, infiltrators detected in an attempt to cross the DMZ totaled 1,087; it is impossible to estimate the number undetected. Agents discovered entering by the coast numbered 160. The level of infiltration has been stepped up in 1969. North Korea has also sought to recruit South Korean students abroad to return home and organize Southern intellectuals to press for reunification. It has gained the coöperation of some students by providing them with financial assistance to complete their education abroad. Several students returning from Europe have been arrested in South Korea for involvement in underground activities.
Kim Il-song's intention to create disruption in the South is evident. His willingness to risk war with the United States in pursuit of his goals has been demonstrated in recent crises. In large measure, his belligerency derives from the difficulty of maintaining his rule in the unique conditions faced by North Korea. Whatever the outcome, the cost of a new offensive is certain to be high for the Korean people.