The Cable

North Korea Reportedly Hacks Treasure Trove of U.S., South Korean War Plans

The revelation comes as Defense Secretary Mattis tells the Army to ready itself.

South Korean soldiers stand guard on the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean soldiers stand guard on the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

North Korean hackers have obtained a treasure trove of documents related to South Korean and U.S. military action, said a South Korean lawmaker, according to a report from the BBC. 

The documents, obtained from South Korea’s defense ministry, included a plan to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, U.S.- and South Korea-authored wartime contingency plans, plans for South Korean special forces, and reports to ally senior commanders, Rhee Cheol-hee, the lawmaker, said.

Revelations of the September 2016 hack come in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s threatening words against North Korea, including at a photo opportunity last week with military leaders that he said might represent the “calm before the storm.”

Defense Secretary James Mattis on Monday told an audience at a U.S. Army exhibition and conference to be ready in case diplomacy with North Korea doesn’t work.

“Now, what does the future hold?” Mattis said. “Neither you nor I can say. So there’s one thing the U.S. Army can do, and that is, you have got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our president can employ, if needed.”

And the hack story gets worse.

What may be hundreds of thousands of documents are still not identified. Some 80 percent of the 235 gigabytes of military documents taken from South Korea’s Defense Integrated Data Center is unknown, Rhee said.

He should know. A member of South Korea’s ruling Minjoo Party, Rhee serves on the National Assembly’s defense committee. 

Military facility and power plant information was also stolen, according to the BBC report.

South Korea’s defense ministry has refused to comment on the hack, the BBC said.

The country in May announced that data had been taken, but it did not specify how much, and North Korea denied its involvement, that report said.

President Trump suggested on Twitter last weekend that diplomacy with North Korea was futile. Twenty-five years of agreements hadn’t worked, he suggested.

“Sorry, but only one thing will work!” he tweeted Saturday.

Photo credit: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

John Kester is a Washington, D.C.-based reporter.

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