"I've never worked with soldiers as focused, committed, or relentless," Huh Kyung-Young
related to me in accented English as we toured the newly constructed special operations
training facility an hour south of Pyongyang in what was once North Korea. "These guys are
the very model of a modern 'spec-ops' team - they never complain, they go for hours and
they're total perfectionists."
After a lengthy tour of the facility, we sat together to watch a series of
demonstrations. The first was a specific type of fast rope insertion using a helicopter. The
team would secure themselves on ropes hanging below the helicopter, which would move
towards the insertion point - in this case the third story of a practice building. On approach,
at a specific moment, the helicopter would pull up and hover as the team of six hanging from
the helicopter would swing up to the roof and drop off at exactly the right moment. With
literally no margin of error, it was one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen.
The day continued with demonstrations of elaborate tactics using high-tech gear from
countries all over the world. One of the things that I noted was that they seemed to be
training on American-made weapons and vehicles. When I asked Huh about this he said
simply "Americans make the best weapons, and we want only the best." Huh went on to
explain that his military wants to be prepared to take part in future coalitions of
peacekeeping anywhere in the world. "Only then," Huh said, "will the world understand that
Korea has arrived."