Posted : 2011-02-07 16:54
Updated : 2011-02-07 16:54

S. Korea raided North with captured agents in 1967

By Lee Tae-hoon

An Army general-turned-lawmaker has revealed a dark chapter in Korean history, saying he volunteered for tit-for-tat retaliation raids in 1967 that killed 33 North Korean soldiers and sabotaged some 50 “enemy” facilities.

In a series of interviews with The Korea Times over several months, Rep. Lee Jin-sam of the minor opposition Liberty Forward Party spelled out for the first time the details of his deadly revenge missions.

“Our troops’ morale was seriously undermined as the communist North deployed a host of armed infiltrators at that time who took the lives of many South Koreans and destroyed major facilities,” the 73-year-old lawmaker recalled. “Something had to be done to stop it.”

North Korean commandos allegedly infiltrated into the South 57 times in 1966 and 118 times in 1967, fueling fears of widening North Korean attacks.

Lee said the North’s actions reached a peak in 1967, when in a general assembly of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party in March that year then North Korean leader Kim Il-sung instructed the military to beef up infiltration activities.

In response, Lee, who served as the head of an Army intelligence unit, requested his commander, Maj. Gen. Yoon Pil-yong, to authorize a series of perilous missions.

“Concerned about safety, Yoon tried to dissuade me,” Lee said. “But I insisted on taking revenge against the communist regime with captured North Korean commandos who had renounced communism and chosen to have a new life in the democratic South.”

A declassified military document obtained by the newspaper shows that Lee, whose rank was captain at the time, selected and trained six former North Korean infiltrators.

“It only took me two weeks to get the six converted North Korean agents ready for the mission as all of them were highly skilled and physically fit for combat operations,” he said.

Lee carried out three retaliation missions in late 1967. Each time, he selected three of the North Korean soldiers to assist him.

In the first mission on Sept. 27, his unit encountered 15 North Korean soldiers when making a shelter after crossing the Geumseong Stream in front of a North Korean military division.

``We spotted North Korean soldiers who were laying wooden-boxed land mines,” Lee said. “Of them only two, the platoon leader and a first sergeant, were carrying guns, assuming that it was safe to do so in their own military area.”

He instructed his operatives to shoot the two armed North Korean soldiers first and kill the rest after.

“We shot all of them again to make sure they were dead, except two young soldiers, who managed to flee,” Lee said.

The former four-star general carried out the second operation on Oct. 14, 1964, only two weeks after the first one.

Lee’s mission was to kill the commander of a military division, but he failed to do so due to heavy security.

In the last mission on Oct 18, 1967, his team cut barbed wire along the heavily-fortified inter-Korean border, and sneaked into a guard post in the North.

“Dressed in a North Korean uniform, I opened the door of the guard post barracks and tossed in grenades,” Lee said. “We killed all 20 soldiers there, including one who hid in a bathroom.”

Of the six converted North Korean commandoes he worked with, one was killed while in action, according to Lee.

Asked about the whereabouts of the five surviving operatives, Lee replied that he later found the government had executed all five in the first two rounds of interviews.

However, he later reversed his comment, saying they were all alive, but the government classified them as dead to better guarantee the safety of them and their families in the North.

Lee also remembers that a regiment in the 21st Army Division followed suit after its deputy commander, Lt. Colonel Hong Doo-pyo, was found dead with his throat allegedly cut by North Korean soldiers in 1967.

Lee claims the North’s provocations significantly dropped after the South’s tit-for-tat retaliations until Jan. 21, 1968, when the North sent 31 elite commandos in a failed attempt to assassinate then-South Korean President Park Chung-hee.

An estimated 13,000 people have been trained as agents in South Korea since 1951 with the aim of retaliating against the North’s armed infiltrations, destroying major military facilities and collecting military intelligence.

Some 8,000 reportedly lost their lives as many of them had to undertake suicide missions or repeatedly carry out dangerous operations.

In 2009, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded that a South Korean spy captured in the North in 1955 and sent back to Seoul as a double agent in 1957 received an unlawful death sentence and was executed, even though he turned himself in to police upon his arrival in the capital city.

The commission found that the court handed down capital punishment based on no evidence, except forged testimony that claimed he intended to harm South Koreans.

"이진삼, 북한 침투 북한군 33명 사살"

육군 참모총장 출신인 이진삼의원이1976년 북한의 도발행위가 극에 달하자 적 응징보복 작전을 펼쳐 적 33명을 사살, 장비 50여점 을 파괴했다며 작전에 대한 상세한 내막을 코리아타임스와의 인터뷰서 털어 놓았다.

당시 제609방첩대장이자 대위였던 이진삼 의원은 당시 육군방첩부대장이었던 윤필용 장군에게 북 도발 행위를 응징할 것을 건의 전향된 남파공작원 6명을 선발, 2주간 특수훈련을 시켜 1967년 9월 27일부터 10월 18일 3차례에 걸쳐 적중 침투 보복 작전을 감행했다 밝혔다.

그는 선발된 남파 공작원은 사상교육을 철저히 받지 않은 반면 이미 북에서 고강도 특수 군사훈련을 받아 보복작전 임무를 수행하는데 큰 어려움이 없었다고 했다.

응진 보복 작전은 특수훈련 된 6명의 공비 중 3명을 선발, 4인 1개조로 이루어 졌다.
기밀이 해제된 한 군사 문서에 의하면 북한은 1966년 57회, 1967년 118회 남한에 도발을 감행했다.

특히, 1967년 3월 15차 전원회의에서 김일성이 대한민국 정부를 전복하는데 총 역량을 집중, 무장공비를 전후방으로 침투시켜 중요시설 파괴 및 인명 살상을 하고 민심을 교란하라는 지령을 하달한 이후 북한의 잔악한 도발행위가 더욱 난무했었다.

첫 보복작전은 그 해 9월 27일 이루어 졌다. 이진삼 의원과 3명의 전향한 공비는 적 사단 전방, 금성천을 도하했으나 적과 조우하게 된다.

이 의원은 “적 부대 앞에서 숙영하려 땅을 파고 있는데 15명의 북한군들이 목함지뢰를 설치하러” 다가왔는데 다행이 “자기 지역이라서 그런지 소대장하고 선임하사 둘만이 총을 들고 있었다” 고 말했다.

이 의원에 따르면 그는 부대원과 총을 든 2명의 북한 간부를 먼저 처리하고 나머지 북한 군에 추격하며 총격을 가한 후 확인 사살했다. 하지만 이 과정에서 북한군 2명을 놓쳤다.

약 2 주 후인 10월 14일 펼쳐진 적 후방지역 첩보획득 작전에서는 적 13사단을 정찰한 후 북한 군 GP 기습을 기도했으나 포기하고 군사동향과 군사시설 등 첩보만을 획득 후 복귀했다.

하지만 10월 18일 전개된 제 3차 응징작전에서는 적 GP 를 습격, 북한군 20명을 사살하고 장비 50여점을 파괴하는 성과를 올렸다.

이 의원에 의하면 북한군 복장으로 위장하고 침투 “GP 문을 열고 수류탄을 던져” 적군을 사살했다. 또한 화장실로 도망간 나머지 한 명 마저 사살했다.

이 의원은 작년에 이루어진 두 차례 인터뷰에서 3차례 북파작전 중 한명의 전향한 공비가 사망했고 나머지는 상관에게 물어보니 "모두 죽였다"는 말을 들었다 밝혔다.

하지만 그는 그 후 말을 바꾸어 작전에 참가한 공비들과 북에 남아있을 가족의 안전을 위해 우리정부가 그들을 사망한 것으로 처리했고 지금도 대한민국에서 자신들의 신분을 숨긴 채 살고 있다 주장하고 있다.

이 의원은 또한 67년에 육군21사단에서는 적이 침투, 현직 부연대장 홍두표 중령의 목을 베어 간 사고가 발생한 적도 있는데 이 역시 남한이 북에 응징보복 작전을 펼쳤다 밝혔다.

한국정부는 1951년 이후 1만 3000명의 특수요원을 양성했고 이들 중에 8000명 가까이 사망 또는 행방불명된 걸로 파악하고 있는 것으로 알려져 있다.

2009년 진실ㆍ화해를 위한 과거사정리위원회는 '특수임무수행자 심문규 이중간첩사건'에서 육군첩보부대(HID)의 처벌 근거 조작으로 심씨가 부당하게 사형 당한 사실을 확인한 적이 있다.

북파공작원이었던 심씨는 1955년 북파돼 활동하다 북한군에 체포된 뒤 간첩교육을 받고 1957년 다시 남파됐으나, 서울에 도착하자마자 자수했지만 위장 자수 혐의로 사형 선고를 받고 1961년 처형됐다.
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