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Martial law plan foresaw North Korean collapse

Sept 03,2018
A military unit under fire for drafting martial law plans during last year’s impeachment crisis made similar plans in October 2016 in case the North Korean government collapsed, a team investigating the unit exclusively told the JoongAng Ilbo on Sunday.

The so-called Hope Plan was drawn up by officials in the military and Park Geun-hye government in case an “unexpected accident” happened to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un or a coup overthrew his regime, according to the investigative team. Under such circumstances, the South Korean military would take control of the entire peninsula.

The investigative team was initially probing accusations that the Defense Security Command, a military intelligence unit, devised martial law plans in March 2017 in case the Constitutional Court ruled against Park’s impeachment and allowed her to remain in office. The assumption was that riots would break out.

But the team, comprising internal investigators in the Ministry of National Defense, recently received testimony from an unidentified source that another martial law plan had been drafted earlier, in October 2016, to prepare for a possible North Korean collapse.

Investigators said they are now trying to figure out whether the first martial law plan was an early draft of the second martial law plan, though chances are slim at this point in the investigation. An official from the team said that discussions of the Hope Plan appeared to begin in September 2016, before the protests that led to Park’s impeachment. Those protests started in November.

The team will likely ask the Seoul High Court to issue a warrant that allows them to look into the Hope Plan. The Blue House had sealed the report as a presidential document and stored it in the National Archives of Korea, keeping it secret for 15 years.

A substantial part of Park’s North Korea policy was centered on the regime’s potential collapse. The president did not shy away from publicly mentioning “serious cracks” within Kim’s inner circle. During one speech on Oct. 1, she called on North Koreans to come to the “free land” of South Korea “any time.”

BY PARK TAE-IN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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