|▲ A satellite image of the No. 91 Office, a dedicated hacking unit under the General Bureau of Reconnaissance. |
The existence of North Korea’s ‘No. 91 Office’, a unit based in the Mangkyungdae-district of Pyongyang dedicated to computer hacking, was revealed in a seminar on cyber terror in Seoul this afternoon.
No. 91 Office, as it is known, is allegedly run under the auspices of the General Bureau of Reconnaissance.
A defector with substantial experience of conditions there offered information on the situation as far back as 2006 at the NKnet-organized “2011 North Korean Cyber Terror Seminar.”
The defector was unable to attend the seminar in person due to fears for his safety, but via pre-produced materials he explained how No. 91 Office is located in a set of two two-storey buildings in the Dangsang-dong of Mankyungdae-district, and how he entered the buildings on a number of occasions thanks to his relations with traders and cadres affiliated to it.
Additionally, satellite images were used to show the location of the office, just 300m from Ansan Bridge across the Botong River.
The defector also detailed the staff of No. 91 Office; the head, in 2006 a PhD-holding colonel in his 40s, a Party secretary ranked lieutenant-colonel, a similarly-ranked National Security Agency agent and around 80 staff, all in their 20s and 30s.
The 80 staff, all excellent minds selected from Kim Il Sung University, Chosun Computer University, Kim Chaek University of Technology and other elite schools, often spoke of ‘business trips’ to Shenyang and Dandong in China, the source explained.
The No. 91 Office-affiliated trade arm had five workers at the time, and is known as the ‘May 18th Trading Company, he added. Through it, the No. 91 Office allegedly obtains the equipment to do its work and provides hackers and other staff with daily necessities.
The unit has a 35-seater bus and two cars with number plates starting with ‘33’ or ‘34’, officially denoting vehicles belonging to the Mining Industry Department of the Cabinet.
The head of North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, Kim Heung Gwang explained that the North Korean authorities invest a great deal in cultivating ‘cyber warriors’. He said, “The smartest students from Geumsung 1 and 2 Middle Schools can enter the College of Natural Sciences, Kim Il Sung University, Kim Chaek University of Technology and Mirim College, where they then learn about high-technology while receiving special treatment.”
President of Open Radio for North Korea Ha Tae Kyung even declared North Korea’s cyber attacks to be a “Second Korean War”, insisting that when Kim Jong Il harms South Korean people indiscriminately in this way, the South must also hurt the Kim regime in response.
“By transmitting more strongly than the North, we could let the North Korean people watch South Korean dramas in peace time, but when there is a cyber attack, we could broadcast South Korean news programs over Chosun Central TV news programs,” he suggested.