This essay will detail the intelligence and national security architecture of the Republic of Korea (ROK - South Korea). It will discuss how the current structures were developed and the effectiveness the ROK services and agencies, and thirdly it will look at key events that have led to reforms and restructuring of the system, and if those changes have produced better outcomes.
In 1905 Korea became a protectorate of Imperial Japan following the Russo-Japanese war and in 1910 Japan annexed Korea as a colony. After the Japanese surrender to United States and allied forces in 1945 following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Korea regained its independence from Japan, establishing a Republic of Korea (ROK) in the southern half of the peninsula. In the northern part a Communist government was established as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
From 1950 to 1953 the north invaded the south with the backing of communist China and the Soviet Union. Fighting was intense and casualties were heavy on all sides until an armistice was signed in 1953 and an end to hostilities was called. The armistice split the peninsula once again into north and south along a demilitarized zone located roughly at the 38th parallel.
The two countries contrasted greatly in development from this point forward with the south achieving rapid economic growth with a per capita income reaching roughly 14 times that of the north. The DPRK remains a military dictatorship to this day under KIM Jong IL the Second whilst the ROK is truly a modern democratic society with civilian leadership.
The intelligence and national security architecture of the Republic of Korea has undergone many changes since the signing of the armistice in 1953 and has faced many challenges along the way, especially from its northern neighbor. Even to this day the intelligence and security apparatus of the DPRK remains highly active and hostile with a record of bloody violence, terrorism and political assassinations against the south. This has fostered an environment in which the south has had to learn lessons and adapt quickly to survive.
Security and intelligence capabilities of the ROK consist of both civilian and military services. Agencies that come under the military command structure of the over-arching Ministry of National Security include the Coast Guard (including the former Civilian Marine Police Force), Defense Security Command (DSC) with its several subsidiary agencies, and the Homeland Defence Forces (Regional Combat Forces).
Civilian services include the Korean National Police agency (KNP), the ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (formerly known as the Ministry of the Interior) and the National Intelligence Service (NIS), (formerly the National Information Agency (NIA), formerly the Agency for National Security Planning (ANSP), formerly the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA). Also included in the civilian services is the Presidential Security Service.