US spy unit to 'infiltrate' North Korea - report

  • 09/05/2017
North Korea leader Kim Jong Un
North Korea leader Kim Jong Un (Getty)

A special counter-espionage unit is being set up by US Forces in South Korea to infiltrate operatives across its northern border, Korean newspaper Cho Sun Ilbo reports.

The 524th Military Intelligence Battalion will specialise in gathering human intelligence from within the North Korean dictatorship.

There's already another battalion is in charge of human intelligence, "but it rarely involves clandestine activities" the paper says, citing the US Eighth Army newsletter.

"The USFK operates a huge arsenal of weapons and equipment to monitor and spy on North Korea, but its human intelligence capability has been relatively weak, which makes it difficult to gather and analyse accurate information about the North. It looks like there was a realisation of the importance of bolstering it," a US government official said.

"Gathering intelligence through wiretapping and satellite imagery has its limitations, so the missing pieces of the puzzle must be solved through human intelligence," a military source told Cho Sun Ilbo.

It comes after North Korea test-fired a second ballistic missile in April. The act defied intense pressure from the US and the reclusive state's main ally, China.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the United Nations that failure to curb North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs could lead to "catastrophic consequences".