The South Korean military is preparing for a scenario in which North Korea launches surprise attacks employing tactics similar to those recently used by the Hamas militant group in executing multifront ambushes against Israel.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff underscored the significance of learning a lesson from Hamas' lightning-quick, multipronged assault on Israel on Saturday and fortifying military readiness during the National Assembly's annual audit on Tuesday.
Seoul's initial assessment is that "Hamas' surprise attack was deemed as a success," Kang Shin-chul, the head of the JCS operation headquarters, said during a separate session titled "Lessons from the war between Israel and Hamas and response strategies."
The assessment concluded that the ambush "incapacitated Israel's defense system." The thousands of rockets launched from Hamas in a short span rendered Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system's effectiveness marginal.
The South Korean military's assessment suggests that North Korea may resort to "surprise attacks employing tactics reminiscent of Hamas," which could involve "seizing border areas forcefully, taking hostages to escalate the crisis and pushing for negotiations."
The military emphasized the potential for North Korea to "execute an asymmetric attack" by imitating the timing, means and methods observed in Hamas' surprise assault on Israel.
In terms of timing, the attack took place at daybreak on Saturday during the Jewish Sabbath, coinciding with the celebration of the Jewish holiday Simchat Torah and the 50th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. The war was sparked by a surprise attack on Israeli territory by Arab coalition forces on Oct. 6, 1973.
On the operational front, Hamas employed small-scale infiltration and assault units, utilizing conventional weaponry such as rockets, trucks, motorcycles, speedboats and motorized paragliders.
With regard to methodology, Hamas militants executed a rapid assault, launching thousands of rockets within a short time frame while simultaneously infiltrating and launching surprise attacks from land, sea and air.
"Therefore, it is imperative for us to identify viable ways that North Korea might employ from the perspective of an aggressor and to formulate appropriate countermeasures," Kang told lawmakers of the defense committee.
South Korea's JCS also publicly detailed specific actions that North Korea might employ in potential attacks against South Korea.
North Korea, for instance, could "employ diverse methods, including civilian equipment, to circumvent surveillance systems and execute surprise attacks."
Pyongyang could further "capitalize on vulnerabilities in advanced defense systems, such as by using underground facilities and civilian infrastructure in a bid to avoid detection by intelligence and satellite surveillance."
Additionally, North Korea could "leverage South Korea's sophisticated domestic social media platforms for psychological warfare, causing confusion and instilling fear" within South Korean society and the general public.
South Korea's JCS presented its strategy for countering North Korea's surprise attacks, underlining the significance of readiness for scenarios where North Korea launches swift offensives using various resources and tactics. These include deploying special forces from land, sea and air, employing large-scale drones and engaging in psychological warfare, such as the dissemination of fake news.
The JCS also pointed out that a barrage of artillery fire could be included in North Korea's potential surprise attacks.
In response to artillery attacks primarily aimed at South Korea's heavily populated metropolitan areas, the military would promptly target North Korea's long-range artillery, as well as fixed facilities such as tunnels and ammunition depots.
South Korea also seeks expeditious development and deployment of artillery interception and counterstrike systems, including the Low Altitude Missile Defense system and the Korean Tactical Surface-to-Surface Missile. The measures aim to safeguard the country's critical facilities and military bases within metropolitan areas.
Amid the ongoing Israel war with Hamas, South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik on Wednesday directed the Army to conduct a comprehensive review of its counterfire operations strategy to better counter North Korea's potential artillery attacks, during his visit to the Ground Operations Command in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province.
Shin emphasized the need to "develop and implement operational plans, which are tailored to completely neutralize the enemy's long-range artillery capabilities within hours in the event of provocations."