Reconnaissance General Bureau

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Reconnaissance Bureau of the General Staff Department
정찰총국
Intelligence agency overview
Formed 2009
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[1]) 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.[2] It is believed to have been established between 2009 and 2010.[2]

It is believed to be the successor of the Korean Workers Party's Operations Department, which was responsible for kidnapping foreign nationals during the Cold War.[3]

It's known to be headed at one time by Kim Yong-chol as the first head of the RGB.[4][5]

History[edit]

The RGB is regarded as North Korea's the primary intelligence and clandestine operations organ.[6] 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.[6]

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.[7] Subsequently, students were sent abroad to China to participate in top computer science programs.[7]

The cyberwarfare unit was elevated to top priority in 2003 following the US invasion of Iraq.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9]

On October 31, 2017, two suspects were arrested by Public Security police in Beijing in an attempt to assassinate Kim Han-sol.[10] They were part of a seven-man team sent by the RGB.[11]

Organization[edit]

The RGB is structured as such in 2017:[1]

Department Mandate
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
Seventh Department Logistics

Unit 180 is a cell specializing in cyberwarfare operations.[12] Lab 110 is another cyberwarfare unit.[8]

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."[8]

The RGB seems to report directly to the National Defense Commission, as well as Kim Jong-un as the supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b https://web.archive.org/web/20180731080639/https://www.nknews.org/2017/05/on-the-great-leaders-secret-service-north-koreas-intelligence-agencies/
  2. ^ a b "Kim Jong-nam: Who in North Korea could organise a VX murder?". BBC News. 24 February 2017. Retrieved 2017-05-13. 
  3. ^ Pike, John. "Reconnaissance Bureau - North Korean Intelligence Agencies". www.globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 3 March 2018. 
  4. ^ "North Korea Is Sending Military Hardliner Kim Yong Chol to the Olympic Closing Ceremony. Here's What to Know". Time. Retrieved 3 March 2018. 
  5. ^ "N Korea to send general to Olympics". 22 February 2018. Retrieved 3 March 2018 – via www.bbc.com. 
  6. ^ a b "North Korea's Cyber Operations: Strategy and Responses" (PDF). Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). 
  7. ^ a b c Sanger, David E.; Kirkpatrick, David D.; Perlroth, Nicole (2017-10-15). "The World Once Laughed at North Korean Cyberpower. No More". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-16. 
  8. ^ a b c d "The Organization of Cyber Operations in North Korea" (PDF). Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). 
  9. ^ https://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2010/10/2010102015647458350.html
  10. ^ https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/30/china-detains-north-korean-assassins-seeking-kim-jong-uns-dissident/
  11. ^ http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/10/31/chinese-police-foil-assassination-plot-on-jong-nams-son/
  12. ^ Park, Ju-min; Pearson, James. Gopalakrishnan, Raju, ed. "Exclusive: North Korea's Unit 180, the cyber warfare cell that worries the West". Reuters. Archived from the original on May 21, 2017.