According to the South Korean newspaper the DailyNK, Mirim College, in a mountainous region of North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, was opened in 1986 by North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, and in the 25 years since has made it its mission to train about 120 students per year in electronic warfare.
The DailyNK spoke to a North Korean defector, Cheong, who said he is familiar with Mirim, although he did not attend himself.
Cheong said basic coursework at Mirim takes five years to complete. Students, who wear the same uniforms as military officials, choose between five departments: electronic engineering, command automation, programming, technical reconnaissance and science. The command automation department includes a course, the article said, focused on hacking its southern neighbor, called “South Chosun’s Early Warning System and How to Respond to It.”
(Chosun is another name for Korea.)
In addition to its highly sensitive curriculum, security guards patrol the grounds, and no car is allowed to enter the college unless it’s carrying Kim Jong-il.
After graduation, students join the People’s Armed Forces and are frequently assigned to two electronic warfare brigades.
John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, told Wired that despite North Korea’s poverty and isolation, he is not surprised the country would focus so much effort on training cybercrime troops.
“Even if the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) can’t feed its own people, it’s quite capable of developing and using the full spectrum of modern weaponry, including cyber.”