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tsy Dick Chun 034

Until the outbreak of hostillties in Korea/ on 2i Junc l95Or [oree rar

an aLnost unknorm corrntry to the average Ancricen, The corrrse of the conflict

since that ti.ne and the gffect that ii

hac had on the world for the past 2O

Jrears have br"o.-ght greater farniliarity, espccialJy to those wlro ncne intinatcly

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involned. To those who rnay be concerned with thc present stalemted, but

nonetheless potentially e:cplosivc situation in Koree, here is a thrrnbncil sketch of the Korean COMINT effort (Less the KORCOM Air problen) when it:began.

llior

Lo 2J June 1950, wheR the North Korean armed forees cr.oased thq

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38th pqrallel, there was vdrtuelly no COI'{INT effort on the North Korean cortuu-

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nj,cations. A U; S . Arrny Security Agency unfU

bgati iaterl

ceptingcepting NorthNorth KoreanKorea4 tratrafflo e1$ thi-s effort weg eugnented by South Koreen

intercept (nOfW Group n14rr)r Ey the end of Septenber L95Q, fasA4urrtqpg*Aqi!|d,. -:.

-gfiitqrg; Sfeinf hat established an tdv-qnccd etcuent g1 Tadgu, Korcr and in

ruid-october the 50th signal serrrice t-*l-lfnon

Ianded in hrsan. Ttre total. l.lntercg;t ras laereased to 2O

became operational ln'the nLdst of a golf sourse located

Scoul Ci-ty.

Fort Lcris, wuhlngton

posltionr rhcn in the outgkirts of

With the availability of intercopted North Korcen comunioationr cenc

the nced for traffie anrlysta, cryptanalysts and llnguists. There wer,e no

Konean linguists assigned to the lrncd Forces Security Ageocy (lFA, forerrrnner

of NSA). One civilian who had studled the langrnlc whllc hospltallzed and e

fenale civil-ian of Korean deseent both enployed by AFSA, together rith ecvcral

Japanese linguists, estrrblished the firrt

possible to convert Japanese iinguists dqe to fhe sinilarity of the gmtmrr

of both languages. To augrnent bhie }anguege rmit, reselrre officcr personnel

with previous Korean }arngua

Korean language urrit. I! war

background werc rocalled to active duty and the

ge

'vf0 ) began to

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fc'r nel*fise hy hl5A ,l

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accclerate its proqran of trainlng U. S. Anay personncl ln the Koreen language. In the interin, one of the two U. S. Anny offlcers of Korean ancestry

stationed as instnrctors at bhe Anny Ianguagc School xas irmediately sent to

Japan and assigned to ASAPAC. He was later joined by the rcErinitg instructor

and sevcral other AIEA linguistr in both Japan aod in Kol&.

Concurlsntly rdth the shortagc of Korcan linguists, there was a$ alnost

total lack of suitable Korean diciionaires and knowledge of North Korean

nilitary and technlcal genninologr. fn tne beginning, terrnlnoJ-ogr appearing in North Korean mlJ-ltary coranunications was compiled and definitiona weFe

detennined by conte:<t or by referring to Japanese and Chlnese dictionaries.

Other sources of tennilolog5r r.rere derived fro

Norbh Konean prisoners-of-war

interrogation and captured docunrenrts. Drring this period, the conduct of

prisoner-of-war interrogation Hae virtually left up to the imagination of, the

ASA linguists assigned to interrogate the subject. Thc intcroogator r,raa

norrnal\y given only the nilitary occupation speciality of the prisonsr he was

to intcrr.ogatc.

At this point, we cannot continue 'dth this tople without suo apprecLa-

tton of the cryptanelytic aspects of the Norbb [orean CS{INT effort.

In thc

leglnning phase of the confllct, North Korean encrypted messages used sirnple

crXlntosystencs in large volrrmes and the eryptana\rbic effort in the field and

at NSA e4joyed high successe The'North Korreans changcd their systqffi fr€-

quent\r, but sLnce the besic sirnplicity of the systens was retained, cryptanaly- tic exploitation ras not a naJor pr^oblem. Therefore, the end-product transla-

tions eroduced during the lattor paft of 1950 and through the spring of 1951

were large in nunber and of e:cLrerne value to the custqners. High echelon North

Korean messeges reveaLed nuch infomati.on about the capabilltiee and intentions

of the }Iorth Koreanr.forccs and were considered by the U. N. tiigh Connand and

t

field conmanders to be a vitally

imporbant source of intelligence.

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E:<pJ-oiting Nozth Korean cryptosystens and producing translation reports

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was not hampered so much by a corplec proble[! as by the large vo].rne of

highlf ei,gnifiglnt measages which had to be publi-shed nith criti-fal\y rrni!64 qualified linguistic persorlhelr

This situation

Affitlllthe

North Koreans

contifiued until the truce

tnrce greement was signed,

agreement was signed in July L953.

another narked eI'fort wa6 nade by Lhe

Sincc opn hostilltics

had ceascd and the sitmtion uas becmlng static, the t{orth Koreans bcgan less

use of radio conmunLcation and Dore usc of l"andlinc and courier or neil servlccg,

In L952t North fioreanqpmunications targets other than milltarTr uGrc Lntercepted. North Korean lnternal civil cmmunications, uhich in nany respect

resenbLed, the Westera Union, produced plai.nterd nesaagos pesscd betscen raajor Norbh Korean cities and industnial cmplerres. Theac Resregcs contalned a

large variety of subjects ranging frqn personal nessages to coal, lead, zilc

and other mining statistics. Order of Battle information was alco available

when these messages were passed to or frm rnenbere of the nilitary forccs.

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lle have seen a C0UINT oroblem i'inding its begiruring with the North Korean.

forces crossing the 38bh parallel on 2J June 195O and developing into a full

flcd.ged problenr during the hostllities; then with the end of the conflict

graual\y changing into a peace fime COMINT effort except for couple of intense

periods followLng the capLure of the PTEBIO and shootdown of a U. S. reconneisaaaco

airrcraft. However, there is one difference - the Nor{h Koreana are not the

North Koreans of I95O. ?hey are now & nodern, better cquj.pped, bettcr trajned

and e:cpenienced nilitary nachine. In adrtitionr thcnc ars thousands of well

trained and well armed Chinese CornrnunLst forces acroas the YaIu Rive:r just

walting to ccrne to the aid of their North Korean fnienda. So, there should,

be no lesc requirnents for cmtinued rvatchfulness todey than that which

exlsted during the Korean War"

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