North Korean hackers stole vital war plans, says Seoul lawmaker

North Korea to use paragliders as part of invasion plans, military officials believe

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un: Pyongyang has been boosting its cyberwarfare capabilities in recent years, taking aim at both government targets as well as corporate networks. Photograph: KCNA via Reuters


North Korean hackers stole a major trove of classified data, including South Korean and US war plans, in a major security breach last year, a parliamentarian in Seoul said as military tensions escalated on the Korean peninsula.

Among the plans hacked was OPLAN 5015, which is the US-South Korean blueprint for an all-out war with Pyongyang and includes procedures to “decapitate” the North Korean leadership, according to Rhee Cheol-hee, a lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Party.

Other documents included OPLAN 3100, which is South Korea’s plan to respond to the North’s “localised provocations”.

“The ministry of national defence has yet to find out about the content of 182 gigabytes of the total [stolen] data,” Mr Rhee said in a statement quoted by local media.

There is growing anxiety that the nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula may see US president Donald Trump order military action.

Pyongyang has fired two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, and seems to be making fast progress towards developing a nuclear missile capable of hitting the continental US.

The breach took place at the Defence Integrated Data Centre last September. Military officials said the hack of the military’s online network took place in May, but gave no details of what data had been compromised.

Nearly 80 per cent of the contents of the data haul had yet to be assessed properly, Mr Rhee said, but the hack had included contingency plans for special forces troops, reports to the allies’ top commanders and information on key military facilities and power plants.

Pyongyang has been boosting its cyberwarfare capabilities in recent years, taking aim at both government targets as well as corporate networks. It has also been trying to amass bitcoin online currency through hackers.

Local media said that many of its hackers are based in China and other countries.

Pyongyang said Seoul was “fabricating” the claims of a cyberattack.

The chief of staff of the US army, General Mark Milley, said there were no “risk-free options” for dealing with the Korean nuclear crisis, and said at the same time, there was also not an “indefinite amount of time” to solve the crisis.

Mr Trump is due to travel to South Korea as part of his Asia tour in early November and the Yonhap news agency reported that he may visit the demilitarised zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas.

Separately, the South Korean military believes the North will use paraglider troops to infiltrate the headquarters of the US-South Korean joint command in Seoul in a surprise attack.

During a visit to the Chinese border city of Dandong in mid-September, this correspondent witnessed a group of five paraglider troops in the sky above Sinuiju on the North Korean side of the Yalu River.

A military source told Yonhap that North Korean special forces were using paragliders in drills last month, and had built models of the Blue House presidential residence and the Combined Forces Command.