KWA Claims Another City In North Korean Civil War
NEWS 10/06/2039 8:58 AM ET
KWA Claims Another City In North Korean Civil War
by Diego Miramontes

CC BY-SA 4.0 "육군 11사단의 대규모 야외기동 전술훈련에서 K-1전차가 신속하게 기동하고 있다.
촬영 - 이헌구 기자"
by 대한민국 국군 Republic of Korea Armed Forces | Writer image: CC0 1.0 Untitled by Olichel | Images were cropped. Images used for illustration purposes only. Image changes released under the same license as the original.

South Korean made K1E1 tanks on the road to Hyesan, North Korea.
North Korean General Ro Seung-Woo has captured another city, in what is shaping up to be a decisive phase of the North Korean civil war.

Ro, who has styled himself Chairman and head of the Korean Workers' Army (KWA), captured the town of Kimhyonggwon last night, after ordering an assault on forces belonging to General Tae Tong-Hyon's Korean Liberation Force (KLF).

Kimhyonggwon is the largest town in the county which bears the same name. Kimhyonggwon county lies at the southern tip of Ryanggang province.

KLF forces were known to be seriously depleted, with the strongest elements pulled north to defend Hyesan, the administrative center of Ryanggang province. Hyesan was thought to be Ro's next target in the north, after recent victories at Hwapyong and Rangrim.

The past week has seen KWA forces - headed by Ro's son, General Ro Dong-Min - consolidate their recent gains in the northwest of the Kaema Highlands with a broad push toward the cities of Kimhyongjik and Kimjongsuk. Reports indicate that Ro transferred five divisions east of the two cities in a feint toward Hyesan, before ordering them to perform a sharp right turn. They quickly drove south, bypassing the irradiated ruins of Pungso before capturing Kimhyonggwon after an overnight aerial bombardment which reduced much of the city to rubble.

The AP reports that by dawn fighting had become hand-to-hand as KLF infantry desperately clung to a few square blocks close to the center of town, before surrendering close to 6:00 a.m. local time.

In the south, the city of Hamhung is being readied in anticipation of a massive artillery bombardment as Ro continues to build up his forces along a perimeter extending almost 125km. KWA troops are within 20km to the southwest and it is believed 75,000 KLF soldiers will engage a force of approximately 225,000 within a week.

The Pentagon estimates up to 750 artillery pieces are being moved to within striking range of the city, which is the second largest in North Korea.

Since usurping General Wu Sung Jin last year, General Tae has performed much better than his predecessor, slowing the highly aggressive Ro, but has still had to endure several key losses. In June last year Dong-Min captured Anju and its coal deposits intact, before racing northwest to claim the cities leading to Sinujiu, one of North Korea's most important economic areas.

In November, Sinujiu saw some of the fiercest fighting of the war and losses north of 20,000 men led to Tae withdrawing his forces northeast. Dong-Min was ordered to give chase, pursuing the KLF's northern army, strafing and bombing it as both armies endured what analysts have called the worst winter North Korea has seen in the past 50 years.

CC BY-SA 3.0 "ko:조선민주주의인민공화국 행정 구역 - file:North Korea location map.svg에서 평양 면적 줄이고, 남포 더함" by NordNordWest modified by 102orion | Image was cropped and added to. Image used for illustration purposes only. Image changes released under the same license as the original.
General Ro's KWA has taken Kimhyonggwon.

February saw KWA forces surround the vital strategic center of Kanggye west of the Rangrim Mountains. It was bombed liberally by Ilyushin Il-28s, as the KLF struggled to equip 250,000 men with enough anti-aircraft guns.

An assault lasting a month reduced the city to rubble, and at the end Tae ordered his soldiers to withdraw, losing an estimated 50,000 (in addition to 30,000 captured) compared to 70,000 KWA casualties (10,000 captured). 120,000 civilians are believed to have perished in the battle or on the road east in freezing conditions.

A similarly audacious drive through the center of the country saw the KWA claim the smaller cities of the interior, as Ro ordered his forces into the Rangrim Mountains. He called on Tae to surrender, stopping at the town of Rangrim in May. Tae famously denounced his adversary in a speech broadcast throughout his territory, labelling him a "weak dog".

Ro responded with a nuclear strike in November last year against the town of Pungso, in a move which drew harsh condemnation from world leaders and prompted a special session of the UN Security Council. President Wennstrom ordered all US forces to DEFCON 2 and moved a fourth carrier into the area in a show of resolve.

The KWA latest victory brings the war close to the heart of Tae's territory and continues Ro's momentum as experts across the globe speculate as to whether the war will last another year. The capture of Kimhyonggwon is the first major city to fall east of the Rangrim Mountains and could represent a major turning point.

Talk that Tae is becoming desperate seem validated by rumors of a secret deal with South Korea to provide tanks, armored vehicles, and munitions. Reports in Western media outlets were vigorously denied by the KLF, but intelligence analysts have clearly identified older model South Korean K1E1 tanks fighting alongside KLF North Korean models.

Ro has publicly stated on numerous occasions that any South Korean involvement in the war will result in an immediate strike on Seoul, South Korea's capital. Ro possesses an estimated 6,000 - 7,500 artillery pieces as well as more than 3,000 short-range missiles in the vicinity of the DMZ.

Sources within the US intelligence community have suggested that the less anti-West Tae has also reached out to gauge American interest in providing support. Though, it is not known if or how the US has responded to the overtures, any participation by the Wennstrom administration in the conflict carries the risk of drawing the US into a war which could quickly engulf South Korea.

China has maintained a cautious distance from the conflict, declining any involvement despite numerous public invitations from both sides. China has stationed approximately 600,000 troops and 2,000 tanks on its border with North Korea.

In addition to the military losses he has taken since assuming power, Tae faces the added possibility of internal strife as his support withers with each defeat. South Korean intelligence sources indicate that there is division among his senior leadership with some wavering in their enthusiasm for Wu's successor. General Chi Kwang-Seok is touted as a possible replacement if Tae's fortunes in the field continue to deteriorate.
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