In the 1960s, South Korea formed a special unit consisting of prisoners and others snatched off the streets and trained it to infiltrate North Korea and assassinate its founder, Kim Il-Sung.
The plot was abandoned, the men mutinied, killed their trainers, and then fought their way into Seoul before blowing themselves up. The government kept the episode quiet for years.
Now, following North Korea’s recent sixth underground nuclear weapons test, Seoul is reportedly reviving the earlier concept. The plan is to form a brigade-size element called “Spartan 3000” that would be able to penetrate into North Korea at night and conduct raids, including assassinations of leadership.
In the meantime, the South Koreans have also been retooling helicopters and transport planes to make them capable of penetrating North Korean air defenses.
This development comes on the heels of President Trump lifting previous restrictions on the size of warheads South Korea is permitted to put on its ballistic missiles following the North’s sixth nuclear test. Larger warheads could more easily destroy underground bunkers where North Korean leaders would likely be during any conflict.
“South Korea has now introduced three arms-buildup programs — Kill Chain; the Korea Air and Missile Defense program; and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation initiative, which includes the decapitation unit.” [source]
The new capabilities could be used pre-emptively.
Analyst comment: This is how a non-nuclear-armed country evens the odds with a nuclear-armed country — by developing a multi-tiered capability to take out its revered leader. No question this will make North Korean leader Kim Jong-un plenty nervous.