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N. Korea shortens SLBM development period with technology stolen from S. Korea

N. Korea shortens SLBM development period with technology stolen from S. Korea

Posted February. 27, 2024 07:33,   

Updated February. 27, 2024 07:33


The South Korean intelligence authorities confirmed that North Korea significantly reduced the development period of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) by applying the cold launch technology seized from a South Korean defense company in 2016. This is the first time that the South Korean intelligence authorities made a judgment that a South Korean defense company’s technologies have been used on a key strategic weapon of North Korea against the South and the U.S.

According to the National Intelligence Service on Monday, the South Korean authorities believe that North Korea used multiple technologies seized from shipbuilding and satellite companies in South Korea and abroad for the development of its ballistic missiles and reconnaissance satellites. The North stole over 60 Level 1 to Level 3 military secrets and 40,000 internal materials by hacking into Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in April 2016 and August 2016. It was reported that the country stole not only part of technologies related to Aegis, which was one of the key strategic assets of the South Korean Navy at the time, and other submarines but also a blueprint of the Korean Vertical Launching System (KLVS), a key technology for SLBMs, and the cold launch technology. The authorities believe that key technologies related to KVLS directly impacted the North’s SLBM development.

Since revealing an SLBM named Pukguksong for the first time in May 2015, North Korea launched an SLBM from a Sinpo-class submarine to 500 kilometers in the air in August 2016, four months after it hacked into Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. It was the country’s fifth test launch related to SLBMs. Following the launch of the Pukguksong-3 SLBM from a barge in 2019, the country revealed several SLBMs at its military parades, including three large SLBM models, including Pukguksong-4 and Pukguksong-5, and one small SLBM model, Hwasong-11. “It is believed that North Korea is improving its SLBM performance and diversifying SLBM models based on the submarine technologies of a South Korean company,” said a government source.

In addition, the intelligence authorities suspect that launch vehicle and optical equipment technologies seized from domestic and foreign satellite companies were primarily used for Malligyong-1, the first military reconnaissance satellite that North Korea succeeded last year in placing into an Earth orbit after two failed attempts, and Chollima-1, a rocket that carried the satellite.

Jin-Woo Shin niceshin@donga.com