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[Opinion] Underground Bunkers

Posted May. 06, 2005 23:24,   


Bunkers are underground military facilities that are used to prepare for possible bombardments or strikes as well as chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) warfare. It was after the assassination of President Park Jung-hee on October 26, 1979, when the term “bunker” first became widely known as a military facility in Korea, rather than just an obstacle at a golf course. On that day, after killing then President Park Chung-hee, Director Kim Jae-gyu of the Korea Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA) hesitated on whether he should go to the KCIA headquarters in Namsan, and eventually decided to go to a bunker at the Korean Army headquarters. There he was decoyed and arrested by subordinates of Army Security Commander Jeon Doo-hwan, and that changed history.

German Führer Adolf Hitler had his bunker about 10 meters underground. By the time a defeat was drawing near, from within the bunker, he gave out orders that flooded the fronts with blood. His orders were, “Destroy all the facilities if it is necessary to maintain our lives,” and, “Whether I live or die, we should not be defeated by the Soviet Army.” Also, there is a book titled “Inside Hitler’s Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich,” where Hitler’s last two weeks, until he shot himself to death inside the bunker, are fully described. In Iraq, an underground bunker for Saddam Hussein is famous for its luxurious facilities costing as much as $70 million. Even the United Nations inspectors admired the phalanx construction technology applied to the bunker, which was built on springs so that it would not suffer any shockwaves from possible bombardments.

During the tenure of Mao ZeDong, a 30-kilometer underground air-raid shelter was built in downtown Beijing. Completed in 1979 after 10 years of shoveling and pick axing, the bunker is better known as the “Underground Great Wall.” It possesses various facilities ranging from a powder and munitions warehouse and wartime hospital to a theater, library, senior welfare center and barber shop. Water supply facilities using underground water and ventilation facilities are fully equipped there, so the bunker can accommodate 300,000 people as long as there is enough food. Now it is being utilized as a tourist attraction mainly designed for foreign visitors.

A luxurious bunker of 180 pyeong was recently discovered in Yeouido, Seoul. Neither in the Seoul Metropolitan Government nor in the military was found any relevant blueprint for it. It is only estimated that the bunker was designed as a shelter in the 1970s in case of an emergency at the May 16 Square (currently known as Yeouido Square). Given that it has sofas in the restroom and is paved with tiles, it seems highly likely that the bunker was a facility for high-ranking officials. Nobody might have been able to reveal its existence, as construction workers would have been forced not to say anything and watertight security measures would have been taken. North Korea is second to none in building such facilities. Subways in Pyongyang were designed for both transportation and air-raid sheltering purposes to begin with. The North built nearly all its military facilities underground in an attempt to avoid satellite reconnaissance by the U.S. After all, bunkers might be the symbol of dictatorship and militaristic rule.

Kim Choong-sik, Editorial writer, skim@donga.com