North Korea's school for hackers

Monday, 2 June 2003, 12:40 PM EST

In North Korea's mountainous Hyungsan region, a military academy specializing in electronic warfare has been churning out 100 cybersoldiers every year for nearly two decades.

Graduates of the elite hacking program at Mirim College are skilled in everything from writing computer viruses to penetrating network defenses and programming weapon guidance systems.

Or so South Korea's government would have the world believe.

Since at least 1994, military and intelligence officials in Seoul have warned of the growing threat posed by the "infowar" academy to the north, which they say was founded in the 1980s and is also known as the Automated Warfare Institute.

Most recently, South Korea's Defense Security Command raised the specter of Mirim at a cybersecurity seminar in mid-May, where a South Korean general noted that North Korea is "reinforcing its cyberterror capabilities."

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