by REERA YOO
South Korea recently discovered tunnels believed to be dug by North Koreans, according to Gen. Hahn Sung-chu.
Hahn, a former two-star general who is now a tunnel hunter, used dowsers to detect three tunnels inside a Seoul apartment building’s basement. These tunnels were 13 to 16 feet wide at a depth of up to 39 feet. A team attempted to drill holes to lower a camera, but before they could, they detected two underground explosives and had to stop the operation. Hahn told CNN he is sure that the tunnels are the work of North Koreans and that they are signs of “a kind of invasion.”
Three tunnels were found in the 1970s and one was found in 1990, but no other tunnels have been found since. Despite this, the South Korean Defense Ministry believes that there may be 20 tunnels in total and continues to search for them.
Although the Defense Ministry is still hunting for “invasion tunnels” near the border, it is convinced that none would reach further than 6 miles from the Demilitarized Zone due to the Imjin River and the large amount of groundwater in Korean soil.
“From North Korea to Seoul is a considerable distance,” said Kim Min-seok, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman. “And the soil structure contains a lot of granite, so it’s not an easy dig like it was digging tunnels in Vietnam, for example.”
On the contrary, an anonymous former intelligence official from North Korea told CNN that a tunnel to Seoul, no matter how far-fetched it may sound, is possible. The defector claimed that North Koreans would remove soil and stones during nighttime to avoid detection and would dig in a vertical manner that allows the water to drain back to the North.
“I was told the tunnels are not directly connected to the streets of Seoul because of the risk of being detected. The tunnels are connected to the sewers linked to the relevant organizations,” the defector said.
He added that although the tunnel digging operations peaked in the 1980s, he believes that the North Korean capital would still protect the several tunnels it created over the decades.
In recent years, tunnel hunting has become a mere token effort by the South Korean government, which is now more concerned about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Featured photo via CNN