South Korea // Gyeonggi and Gangwon //

Espionage in the East Sea


Those who deem the Cold War long-finished should cast their minds back to September 1996. On the fourteenth, a submarine containing 26 North Korean spies arrived at Amin, on South Korea’s Gangwon coast. Three disembarked, and made it back to the submarine after completing their surveillance mission on the Air Force base near Gangneung, but the waves were particularly strong that day and the sub came a cropper on the rocks. Eleven non-military crew members were killed by the soldiers, lest they leaked classified information to the South, and important documents were incinerated inside the vessel – the ceiling of the cabin in question is still charred with burnt North Korean spy material. The remaining fifteen soldiers attempted to return to the North overland, with their Southern counterparts understandably keen to stop them; the mission continued for 49 days, during which seventeen South Korean soldiers and civilians lost their lives. Thirteen of the spies were killed, one was captured, and the whereabouts of the last remains a mystery.

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