Reconnaissance General Bureau
|Intelligence agency overview|
|Preceding Intelligence agency|
|Parent department||General Staff Department of the Korean People's Army (Partially)|
The Reconnaissance General Bureau (Korean: 정찰총국; RGB, Reconnaissance Bureau of the General Staff Department) is a North Korean intelligence agency that manages the state's clandestine operations. Most of their operations have a specific focus on Japan and South Korea. It is believed to have been established in 2009 or 2010.
The RGB is regarded as North Korea's primary intelligence and clandestine operations organ. Although its original missions have traditionally focused on clandestine operations such as commando raids, infiltrations and disruptions, the RGB has since come to control most of the known North Korean cyber capabilities, mainly under Bureau 121 or its speculated successor, the Cyber Warfare Guidance Bureau.
The foundations for North Korean cyber operations were built in the 1990s, after North Korean computer scientists returned from travel abroad proposing to use the Internet as a means to spy on enemies and attack militarily superior opponents such as the United States and South Korea. Subsequently, students were sent abroad to China to participate in top computer science programs.
The RGB was established in 2009 to consolidate various intelligence and special operations agencies of the North Korean government, meaning that units previously tasked with "political warfare, foreign intelligence, propaganda, subversion, kidnapping, special operations, and assassinations" were merged into one single organization.
On October 21, 2010, a RGB agent posing as a defector was caught by South Korean police for attempting to assassinate Hwang Jang-yop, who passed away from natural causes.
The RGB is structured as such in 2017:
|First Department||Training and technical assistance|
|Second Department||Military intelligence|
|Third Department||Signals intelligence and computer hacking|
|Fifth Department||Known as Bureau 35, deals with foreign intelligence, including South Korea. Suspected of conducting the assassination plot on Kim Jong-nam|
|Sixth Department||Military contacts/policy guidelines|
Reconnaissance missions are also partially overseen by the General Staff Department (GSD) of the Korean People’s Army (KPA). As of 2014, experts argued that "North Korea does not seem to have yet organized these units into an overarching Cyber Command."
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