North Korean Special Operations Forces: Hovercraft Bases

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Alkyone

North Korean Special Operations Forces: Hovercraft Bases (Part I)


North Korea has one of the largest special operations forces (SOF) in the world with specially trained, elite soldiers numbering close to 200,000. Among these unique special operations forces today are two navy "sniper" brigades1 subordinate to the Korean People's Navy (KPN) with one brigade deployed with the East Sea Fleet and the other with the West Sea Fleet.2

In addition to activities focused on sabotage and subversion, these units are also tasked with conducting amphibious assault landings (e.g., capturing South Korean islands in the West Sea, etc.); amphibious infiltration missions (e.g., inserting sabotage teams, etc.) along the South Korean coasts; and establishing a "second front" in South Korea's strategic rear areas.3

Key Takeaways

-North Korean hovercraft units--a key element in supporting navy sniper brigades' offensive operations--have evolved and become more threatening over time as a result of restructuring, modernization and construction of new bases closer to the Northern Limit Line (NLL).

-In the West Sea, the hovercraft units appear to be subordinate to a single amphibious assault command that is controlled and based separately from the navy sniper brigades.

-This amphibious assault command is subordinate to the West Sea Fleet headquarters and appears to consist of a headquarters, support elements, a number of landing craft squadrons and four hovercraft squadrons.

-Each hovercraft squadron is equipped with 16-18 hovercraft. These four squadrons are currently deployed at two bases--Kibong-dong and Tasa-ri.

-If used as a staging area for an attack, the hovercraft units from Kibong-dong could land as many as 2,700 special force troops on South Korea's western islands within two to four hours. Units from Tasa-ri could land an additional 800 troops within 2.5 to 4.5 hours of a first wave attack.

-There is a third, newer, hovercraft base that was built at Sasŭlp'o (Namdae-ch'ŏn) during the period between 2009-2011. However, no hovercraft have been deployed there as of January 2018.

-More threatening, preliminary observations indicate a new hovercraft base is under construction further south on the west coast immediately north of the Northern Limit Line.

Overview

Special operations forces represent approximately 17 percent of the strength of the Korean People's Army (KPA) and are uniquely structured, trained and equipped to undertake unique missions such as: sabotage of command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) facilities, port facilities, oil and gas storage facilities, airbases, and missile sites; interdiction of major lines of communications; strategic reconnaissance; assassination of key military and political personalities; conducting unconventional warfare activities in the South Korea and Japan; and more.
Up until the early-1980s, the navy sniper brigades in the KPN were limited in their ability to conduct large amphibious operations due to their organization, limited inventory of conventional and small high-speed landing craft and the shallow waters and extreme tidal swing of the West Sea.4

In order to directly address these operational limitations during the mid-1980s the KPN undertook a reorganization and expansion of the navy sniper brigades, and introduced high-speed hovercraft (a.k.a., air cushion vehicles) units to first supplement and then replace many older and less capable high-speed landing craft.5 To accommodate these new hovercraft, the KPN established two hovercraft units and constructed hovercraft bases on each coast. By the mid-1990s, the current inventory of approximately 140 hovercraft of at least two classes was reached.6 Since that time the inventory of hovercraft has remained relatively stable, however, the basing of these units has evolved and become more threatening as a result of restructuring, modernization and construction of new bases closer to the Northern Limit Line (NLL).

There are several classes of hovercraft in KPN service--most notably are the KONG BANG II and III. These two classes can carry 50 and 40 troops each, respectively, at speeds of 40-50 knots (74-92 km/h) depending upon sea conditions.

Classes of North Korean Hovercraft



Subordinate to the West Sea Fleet headquarters is what appears to be a single amphibious assault command that is controlled and based separately from the navy sniper brigades. This amphibious assault command is believed to consist of a headquarters, support elements, a number of landing craft squadrons and four hovercraft squadrons.7 Each hovercraft squadron is equipped with 16-18 hovercraft. These four squadrons are deployed at two bases--Kibong-dong and Tasa-ri.

Kibong-dong

Located approximately 116 km northwest of Pyongyang on the southern tip of a small peninsula, the Kibong-dong hovercraft base (39.6147°, 124.6325°) is the oldest such base on the west coast. Built during the 1980s, it occupies approximately .82 km2 (202 acres) in a shallow bay and consists of several headquarters, administration and support buildings, housing areas, three hovercraft storage facilities, testing pond (used after making minor repairs to a hovercraft's hull) and a concrete launching ramp. On the north side of the bay is a small approximately 30-meter-by-30-meter concrete pier that originally housed a small lighthouse that was dismantled during the early 2000s and is now occasionally used for training by hovercraft units.



Each hovercraft storage facility is surrounded on three sides by a high earthen revetment, measures approximately 90-meters-by-65-meters and contains two parallel rectangular hovercraft shed buildings. Each of these sheds measures approximately 76-meters-by-22-meters and contains nine hovercraft bays that are open to the front and rear. One of the shed buildings has a small attached administration or support building. Taken together, these three hovercraft compounds can shelter a total of 52 hovercraft. The shed buildings are primarily for environmental protection and provide little, or no, protection from attack.



Due to winter icing of the bay in which the base is located, training activity is heaviest from Spring through Fall. Training activities consist of open water voyages and landing exercises primarily along northern beaches and shorelines. In recent years there has typically been one major joint landing exercise each year which, on occasion has been conducted further south along the coast. Such exercises are conducted with ground force land units, Air Force units--including paratroop air drops and airstrikes, and Navy vessels and submarines. These exercises are designed to simulate wartime landings on South Korean islands and in the strategic rear area and have included the participation of larger landing craft for infantry, tanks and artillery units.



The hovercraft sheds that exist today at the Kibong-dong base were constructed during 2000-2003. Since then, satellite imagery analysis has shown that while the sheds have remained essentially unchanged, various construction projects have been carried out at the base that have seen small buildings being razed, new structures being erected, and a gradual deterioration of the concrete pad on the north side of the bay.



The distance from Kibong-dong to the northernmost ROK island of Baegnyeong-do (백령도) is approximately 182 km and to the port city Incheon (인천) approximately 373 km. Under ideal conditions these voyages would take approximately 2 and 4 hours respectively for hovercraft operating from Kibong-dong. If all hovercraft were carrying their maximum number of troops such an attack has the potential to land 2,700 troops in an initial assault wave. Potentially, a second wave could be landed 4-8 hours later.8

Tasa-ri

Located approximately 25 km north of Kibong-dong is the Tasa-ri hovercraft base (39.8081° 124.4126°). Believed to have been built during the early-1990s as a satellite facility to the Kibong-dong base it occupies approximately .11 km2 (27 acres) within a small man-made inlet enclosed by sea walls. The facility is minimal, at best, consisting of several small headquarters, administration and support buildings, a single hovercraft storage facility, a small maritime railway with transfer table and a concrete launching ramp. Housing is likely located in the nearby town of Tasa-rodongjagu (다사로동자구) and all major maintenance is performed at either the nearby Tasa-ri shipyard or at Kibong-dong.



The hovercraft storage facility is surrounded on three sides by a tree-lined earth revetment and consists of four rectangular hovercraft sheds. Each of the sheds measure approximately 45-meters-by-22-meters and contains four open-front hovercraft bays. Thus, providing shelter for a total of 16 hovercraft. As with the Kibong-dong base, these sheds are for environmental protection and provide little or no protection from attack.



The hovercraft sheds that exist today at the Tasa-ri base were built during the 2004-2008 period. Since that time no significant changes have been observed in satellite imagery with the sheds and only a few very minor changes to the number and type of structures present at the base have been observed.



The distance from Kibong-dong to the northernmost ROK island of Baegnyeong-do (백령도) is 210 km and to the port city Incheon (인천) approximately 400 km. Under ideal conditions these voyages would take approximately 2.5 and 4.5 hours hours respectively. If all hovercraft were carrying their maximum number of troops such an attack has the potential to land an additional 800 troops to those landed by Kibong-dong hovercraft in a first wave. Potentially, a second wave could be landed 5-9 hours later.9



Together, these four hovercraft compounds at Kibong-dong and Tasa-ri can shelter a total of 68 hovercraft.



Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. is an internationally recognized analyst, award winning author and lecturer on North Korean defense and intelligence affairs and ballistic missile development in the Third World. He is the Founder and CEO of KPA Associates, LLC and a senior imagery analyst for 38 North at John Hopkins SAIS, The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, and the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

References


1 ) "Sniper" is a World War II Soviet honorific adopted by the Korean People's Army to designate elite special operations units. ↩

2 ) North Korea does not use the titles of Yellow Sea or Sea of Japan, but rather refers to these two bodies of water as the West Sea (Sohae) and East Sea (Tonghae). ↩

3 ) Bermudez, Joseph S., Jr. North Korean Hovercraft Forces: Part 3 Sasulp'o. Longmont, CO: DigitalGlobe, June 8, 2011; Bermudez, Joseph S., Jr. North Korean Special Forces - Second Edition, Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, November 1997, pp. 194-209; Roh Chŏng-Min, "Expansion of North Korea's Hovercraft Base Making Progress in Small but Rapid Steps," Radio Free Asia, November 1, 2017, (in Korean), http://www.rfa.org/korean/weekly_program/c704c131c0acc9c4-d558b298c5d0c11c-bcf8-bd81d55c/satellitenk-11012017150626.html; Lee Min-Jung, "'North Korean Hovercraft Killer'… New-generation High-speed Patrol Boat to be Deployed along NLL Early Next Year," JoongAng Ilbo, October 30, 2017; and "Navy launches new patrol boat to counter N. Korean hovercrafts," Yonhap, July 28, 2016, http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2016/07/28/33/0301000000AEN20160728004151315F.html.

4 ) This tidal swing can change by as much as 10 meters and exposes approximately 1,000 square miles of mudflats at low tide that strand conventional vessels but that hovercraft can easily skim across. See Walters, Sr., Kenneth R. and Traxler, Maj. Kathleen M. North Korea--A Climatological Study, Scott AFB, IL: USAF. ↩

5 ) The term "hovercraft" is a more general name for the technical designation of "Landing Craft, Personnel, Air-cushioned" (LCPA) or "Landing Craft, Air-cushioned" (LCAC) and is used here for readability. ↩

6 ) There may be a small number of additional hovercraft on the east coast. ↩

7 ) Author interview data. There is considerable confusion in the open source regarding the organization of the parent unit controlling the hovercraft so the information presented here should be viewed with caution. ↩

8 ) These estimates are the worst case and assume 100 percent serviceability and no losses during the voyage to a landing--both are unlikely to be achieved under wartime conditions. ↩

9 ) These are based upon the same criteria as those for the Kibong-dong base above. ↩


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North Korean Special Operations Forces: Hovercraft Bases (Part II)


Satellite imagery analysis shows that North Korea continues to develop its conventional military forces in a few targeted areas in addition to its high-profile nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. This is compatible with a broader North Korean strategy to develop stronger asymmetrical capabilities to offset the large imbalance of power between the DPRK and its neighbors.

Special operations forces are important to North Korea's asymmetric warfare strategy and make up a large percent of the strength of the Korean People's Army (KPA). Upon closer examination through satellite imagery, it has been observed that specialized hovercraft units within the Korean People's Navy (KPN) could pose a greater threat to surrounding countries in the region as they are modernized and restructured. In particular, evidence of construction work at new hovercraft bases could suggest that North Korea will eventually move the units to a more forward deployed position closer to South Korean islands in the West Sea.

Key Takeaways

Construction activity detected at two new North Korean hovercraft bases Sasŭlp'o (사슬포/고암포) and Yŏnbong-ni (련봉리) initially indicated that North Korea could be preparing to forward deploy existing hovercraft units from Kibong-dong and Tasa-ri to this area.

- However, thus far the Korean People's Navy has not significantly increased the number of hovercraft deployed along the West Sea and has not forward deployed the hovercraft units from older bases.

- If North Korea does redeploy the existing hovercraft units at Kibong-dong and Tasa-ri to the Yŏnbong-ni hovercraft base it would represent the furthest forward deployment of any KPN hovercraft unit to date.

- This would also constitute a significant escalation of the navy sniper brigade threat to the ROK islands in the West Sea and ports along the coast; and potentially a political calculation that the ROK is too weak to counter such a move.

Sasulp'o

Located approximately 120 km southwest of Pyongyang within a shallow bay formed by the Namdae-ch'ŏn (Namdae stream) is the Sasŭlp'o hovercraft base.1 The base consists of two facilities--the main base (38.1920° 124.9045°) 1.5 km south of town of Sasŭlp'o and a smaller satellite base (38.2254° 124.9028°) across the Namdae-ch'ŏn, 400 meters southwest of the village of Yami-dong.2 While survey work undoubtedly was undertaken earlier, construction of the new hovercraft base is believed to have begun by early-2010 in a relatively flat area consisting of agricultural fields and a small stream that would be slightly redirected around the new facility. Construction was essentially complete by mid-2012.3

The main facility occupies an irregularly shaped area measuring approximately 1,000-meters-by-900-meters, encompasses approximately .38 km2 (94 acres) and consists of four headquarters, administration, housing and support compounds, three hovercraft storage compounds, and a small pre-existing agricultural reservoir that appears to also be intended to be used as a testing pond. All the compounds are connected to a central access road that also serves as a taxiway for hovercraft leading down to the Namdae-ch'ŏn. There is, however, no concrete launching ramp.



The three hovercraft compounds are different in configuration and construction from those previously constructed elsewhere in the country. Each is surrounded by a high earthen revetment with a narrow entrance leading to the central taxiway and consists of a small support building and a number of reinforced concrete hovercraft shelters arranged in a "C" configuration around a central yard. These shelters, measure approximately 10-meters-by-24-meters, are constructed of reinforced concrete walls and arched roofs, are open to the front and rear and are large enough to accommodate the KONG BANG II/III or other classes of hovercraft in KPN service. While they do provide somewhat better protection from blast and fragmentation damage than the existing sheds at Kibong-dong and Tasa-ri, they do not provide for protection from direct attack.



Two of the compounds consist of 16 shelters each and measure approximately 154-meters-by-95-meters and 164-meters-by-95-meters, respectively. The third facility consists of 20 shelters and measures approximately 180-meters-by-85-meters. These three hovercraft compounds can shelter a total of 52 hovercraft.



Yami-dong

The smaller satellite base southwest of Yami-dong occupies an irregularly shaped area measuring approximately 500-meters-by-210-meters, encompasses approximately .10 km2 (25 acres) in a shallow cove and consists of a combined headquarters, administration, housing and support compound, and a single hovercraft compound with an approximately 50-meter-by-35-meter concrete launching ramp. There is also an approximately 25-meter-by-9-meter pier connected to the base on its western corner.



The hovercraft compound is similar to those at the main base being surrounded by a high earthen revetment with a narrow entrance leading directly to the concrete launching ramp, consists of 16 reinforced concrete hovercraft shelters arranged in a "C" configuration around a central yard, has a small support building, and measures approximately 150-meters-by-90-meters.



Taken together, the four hovercraft compounds at the main Sasŭlp'o and the satellite Yami-dong bases can shelter a total of 68 hovercraft. This figure of 68 represents two less the total number of hovercraft available at the Kibong-dong and Tasa-ri hovercraft bases (68 vs. 70).4



The construction of the Sasŭlp'o and Yami-dong bases was initially assessed from two perspectives. First, was that it was an indication that North Korea was preparing for a dramatic expansion and forward deployment of new hovercraft units. Second, that North Korea was preparing for the forward deployment of the existing hovercraft units at Kibong-dong and Tasa-ri. Either of which would represent the furthest forward deployment of any KPN hovercraft unit to date and an escalation of the navy sniper brigade threat to the ROK islands in the West Sea and ports along the coast.

For example, the distances to the northernmost ROK island of Baegnyeong-do (백령도) and the port city Incheon (인천) is reduced from approximately 182 km and 373 km when operating from the Kibong-dong hovercraft base to approximately 50 km and 215 km, respectively, from the Sasŭlp'o and Yami-dong bases. Thus, reducing the voyage time to approximately 30 minutes and 2.5 hours, respectively. Significantly, about half of a voyage from Sasŭlp'o and Yami-dong to Baegnyeong-do would be masked from South Korean radars located on Baegnyeong-do by the Yongyŏn-bando (i.e., Yongyŏn Peninsula) affording a KPN assault on the island a higher degree of surprise.

The KPN, however, neither significantly increased the number of its hovercraft deployed along the West Sea, nor forward deployed the hovercraft units from Kibong-dong or Tasa-ri. Subsequently, the assessment of the Sasŭlp'o and Yami-dong bases evolved to the understanding that it was to shelter existing hovercraft units that were forward deployed from rear bases during an emergency. Then during 2014-2015 this assessment began to change with the commencement of construction on a new hovercraft near Yŏnbong-ni, 40 km to the southeast, on the base of the Yongyŏn-bando (i.e., Yongyŏn Peninsula) and immediately north of the Northern Limit Line.

Most recently, during the summer of 2017, North Korea began a land reclamation project in the upper Namdae-ch'ŏn that appears to indicate that the main Sasŭlp'o hovercraft base will be abandoned--although likely repurposed--in favor of the new base at Yŏnbong-ni.

As of December 26, 2017, this reclamation project has constructed a subsurface rock dam to slow the flow of water in-and-out of the upper Namdae-ch'ŏn and two levees upstream of the dam. Both of these levees are unfinished but have provisions for flood gates to control water levels. One of the levees, however, now blocks access to the main Sasŭlp'o hovercraft base.



While hovercraft can cross low objects, they can't cross high levees unless special ramps are constructed for the hovercraft to climb over--none of which are evident in satellite as of December 2017. Since no such provisions are evident it would appear to confirm that the main Sasŭlp'o base will be abandoned for hovercraft usage.5

Yonbong-ni

Located approximately 135 km southwest of Pyongyang within a small inlet is the construction site for the Yŏnbong-ni hovercraft base. The base consists of two groupings of facilities and hovercraft shelters separated by a newly constructed dam (37.907892° 125.221185°) 1.5 km southeast of the village of Yŏnbong-ni. When completed the Yŏnbong-ni hovercraft base will occupy an irregularly shaped area measuring approximately 1,600-meters-by-700-meters--not including a recently constructed pier 1.4 km to the south. In total, the base encompasses approximately .68 km2 (168 acres) and consists of headquarters, administration, housing and support compounds, and a large number of hovercraft shelters--nineteen 2- and 3-bay hovercraft shelters as of December 2017.



Yonbong-ni (East)

During early 2014 North Korea began construction of dam approximately 1.5 km southeast of the small village of Yŏnbong-ni and across a small inlet formed by a small peninsula on the east and the mainland on the west. Concurrently, a small village was constructed, probably to house construction workers, at the head of the inlet and 800 meters east of Yŏnbong-ni. Several months later, and before the dam was completed, a road was constructed south along the shore on the east of the dam. Two excavations were subsequently observed 100-200 meters south along this road. These excavations were unusual in that they were small, cut into the steep sides of a peninsula, and the excavated material, rather than being used for the dam or transported elsewhere, was being push into the sea to extend the shoreline out in a series of small mounds.



By late-2015 satellite imagery showed that the road on the east side of the dam had been extended further south and there were now a total of five small excavations, with the newest one being 500 meters south of the dam. It was at this point that the first solid evidence was observed that indicated a new hovercraft base was under construction. This was the erection of two 10-to-12-meter-wide arched walls at the rear of several of the excavations indicating that these were intended to accommodate 2-bay concrete-reinforced hovercraft shelters. The material that was observed being pushed into the sea would form the foundations for future launching ramps.



During 2016, on the east side of the dam there were excavations for eight 2-bay and one 4-bay hovercraft shelters, a dirt road was built across to the east side of the peninsula, and it was observed that several housing or support buildings were under construction. On the east shore of the peninsula a single 2-bay shelter was under construction.



In satellite imagery from December 26, 2017, it shows that on the east of the dam considerable construction progress has been achieved across the peninsula. There were now a total of eleven 2-bay and 4 four-bay shelters in various stages of construction--a majority of which had their rear arched walls in place, several shelters have what appear to be entrance doors in place, and two small support areas were under construction.

Yonbong-ni (West)

By late-2015, it was observed that two areas west of the dam were also being cleared. The first was 350 meters west of the dam and measured approximately 70-meters-by-90-meters and the second was 180 meters to the northwest of the dam and measured approximately 65-meters-by-30-meters. Finally, a road had been extended from the west side of the dam south, 300 meters along the shore, to a shallow valley.

During 2016 significant progress was achieved on the construction of this part of the base. Satellite imagery showed that on the west side of the dam, the large clearing had been expanded to approximately 215-meters-by-135-meters and although no buildings were yet erected it is likely intended for headquarters, administration, housing and support buildings, a new housing area was erected 150 meters west of the dam with approximately 10 small buildings, in the shallow valley to the south of the dam four 4-bay hovercraft shelters were being excavated and a housing and support area erected 500 meters to the west.



Most recently, satellite imagery on December 26, 2017, shows that slow but steady progress had been made on the west side of the dam.



Most notably, is that all four of the 4-bay hovercraft shelter excavations now had their rear arched walls in place and a new 80-meter-by-7-meter pier has been constructed on a point 1.4 km south of the dam that will likely be associated with the base.



In sum, the Yŏnbong-ni hovercraft base possesses a number of characteristics that enhances its survivability over all existing hovercraft bases,

- The base facilities are dispersed and separated by low hills
- The hovercraft shelters are excavated from hillsides and possess rear walls and potentially reinforced doors across their entrances
- Given that they were excavated out of the side of hills a majority of the new shelters could be covered by earth to provide additional protection
- A number of the 2-bay shelters have direct access to the water allowing for rapid deployment under emergency conditions
While none of these features provide protection from direct attack they do provide significantly better protection from blast and fragmentation damage than any of the existing sheds or shelters found at other hovercraft bases.

While none of these features provide protection from direct attack they do provide significantly better protection from blast and fragmentation damage than any of the existing sheds or shelters found at other hovercraft bases.

As of December 2017, the hovercraft shelters at the Yŏnbong-ni hovercraft base can shelter a total of 54 hovercraft--two more than the main Sasŭlp'o hovercraft base (54 vs. 52)--and are large enough to accommodate the KONG BANG II/III or other classes of hovercraft in KPN service. If construction continues at its present pace it is likely that the reinforced concrete roofs for the shelters will be poured starting in 2018 and that a majority of the headquarters, administration, housing and support compounds will be completed during 2019.



While the location of the Yŏnbong-ni hovercraft base offers no significant timewise advantages for an assault on Baegnyeong-do (the island can still be reached in 30 minutes), it does offer the advantage of being able to more easily land an assault force from the south and east without having to pass the heavily defended north side of the island. More significantly, hovercraft from the Yŏnbong-ni base can quickly reach the ROK islands of Daecheong-do (Taech'ŏng-do), Socheong-do (Soch'ŏng-do) and Yeonpyeong-do (Yŏnp'yŏng-do) in approximately 30, 40 and 70 minutes, respectively; and the port city of Incheon can be reached in 90 minutes.6

If North Korea does redeploy the existing hovercraft units at Kibong-dong and Tasa-ri to the Yŏnbong-ni hovercraft base it would represent: the furthest forward deployment of any KPN hovercraft unit to date; a significant escalation of the navy sniper brigade threat to the ROK islands in the West Sea and ports along the coast; and potentially a political calculation that the ROK is too weak to counter such a move.

References


1) Because part of the hovercraft base is located in the general area of the older Koamp'o (고암포) Navy Base it sometimes identified using this name in media reports. ↩
2) Bermudez Jr., Joseph S. "New Hovercraft Base at Sasŭlp'o," KPA Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2, February 2011, pp. 1-9, http://www.kpajournal.com/vol-2-no-2-february-2011/; "Sighting of DPRK Military Hovercraft in Satellite Photos," YTN, August 3, 2010; "DPRK Trains Special Forces to Seize 5 ROK Border Islands," JoongAng Ilbo, December 31, 2010; and "Satellite Images Reveal Hovercraft Base in North Korea," Jane's Defence Weekly, February 25, 2011, jdw.janes.com; See also, Bermudez, Joseph S., Jr. North Korean Hovercraft Forces: Part 3 Sasulp'o. Longmont, CO: DigitalGlobe, June 8, 2011; and Bermudez, Joseph S., Jr. North Korean Special Forces - Second Edition, Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, November 1997, pp. 194-209. ↩

3) "North Korea Naval Base Nearly Complete," UPI, May 29, 2011, http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/05/29/North-Korea-naval-base-nearly-complete/UPI-84331306642680/; Adewunmi, Bim. "North Korea's new weapon: the hovercraft," Guardian, May 30, 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/30/north-korea-attack-hovercraft; "NK Nears Completion of Naval Base Construction," KBS World, May 30, 2011, http://world.kbs.co.kr/english/news/news_Po_detail.htm?No=81854; and Bermudez Jr., Joseph S. "New Hovercraft Base at Sasŭlp'o," KPA Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2, February 2011, pp. 1-9, http://www.kpajournal.com/vol-2-no-2-february-2011/.
4) Bermudez Jr., Joseph S. "New Hovercraft Base at Sasŭlp'o," KPA Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2, February 2011, pp. 1-9, http://www.kpajournal.com/vol-2-no-2-february-2011/.
5) The abandoning of the Sasŭlp'o base, and the valuable resources that went into its construction, is likely an indicator of the importance being given by the Kim Jong-un regime to increasing agricultural output nationwide (e.g., the Tideland Reclamation Complex in P'yŏngbuk, etc.). ↩
6) These estimates are the worst case and are unlikely to be achieved under wartime conditions.

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