North Korean hackers have stolen submarine and warship blueprints from South Korea, claims lawmaker
North Korean hackers have stolen submarine and warship blueprints from South Korea, claims lawmaker

North Korean hackers have stolen blueprints for South Korean warships and submarine from the database of Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co., Ltd, one of South Korea’s largest shipbuilders, in April of last year. Though the identity of the perpetrators remained a mystery up until recently, it’s now believed that North Korean hackers were responsible for the data breach.

“We are almost 100 percent certain that North Korean hackers were behind the hacking and stole the company’s sensitive documents,” said Kyung Dae-soo, a South Korean lawmaker and member of the conservative Liberty Korea Party.

According to, the Daewoo hacking was uncovered by a Ministry of Defense division tasked with investigating cybercrime cases. It’s believed that the hackers took around 40,000 documents, though the exact sensitivity of these documents has not been revealed by the investigators.

What is known is that the hackers stole 60 classified military documents. Included in those documents are information regarding vessels equipped with the Aegis Combat System, an integrated naval weapons system that utilizes powerful computer and radar technology. Currently, South Korea is one of six nations operating the system, with three destroyers of the Republic of Korea Navy making use of it. (Related: North Korea’s nuclear missiles can now reach New York City, Boston and Los Angeles, analysts conclude… are you awake yet?)

Kyung, himself a member of the South Korean Parliament’s National Defense Committee, has stated that he learned of the hack at an intelligence briefing last week. The findings were verified by military investigators who had been on the case for six months leading up to October of this year. He added that the investigative team pinpointed North Korean hackers due to the hacking method being highly similar to other hack jobs linked to the hermit kingdom.


No further comments on the matter have been issued by the South Korean Defense Ministry. A spokesperson for Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering stated that the company was unaware of the issue until Kyung addressed it, and that there were no immediate plans of releasing any statements concerning the hack.

Though as per, the company has begun to beef up its defenses after the hack came to light. Defense sources have criticized Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering for failing to secure its business intranet from the public internet.

North Korea has yet to comment. However, the nation has either denied or outright ignored past accusations.

Fast facts on Unit 121

If North Korea is indeed behind the hack, then the data breach was most likely pulled off by the enigmatic Unit 121, a North Korean cyberwarfare agency. The bureau first came to international attention in 2014 when they allegedly hacked into Sony Pictures’ computers prior to the release of “The Interview.” This action-comedy centered around Seth Rogen and James Franco interviewing current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, as played by Randall Park.

Though the information on Unit 121 has been relatively scarce until now, this is what we do know:

  • The agency is said to have been set up Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong-un’s father and predecessor, almost two decades ago.
  • It’s believed that Unit 121 consists of over 1,700 state-sponsored hackers who are backed by over 5,000 support staff.
  • While Unit 121 became globally known in 2014, the agency gained South Korea’s attention as far back as 2004, when they supposedly tapped into the South Korean military’s wireless communication network.
  • In addition to performing military data breaches, Unit 121’s skills appear to be used for monetary gain as well. Back in 2011, South Korean police arrested five people who had been working with North Korean hackers to take in millions of dollars via online games. Just last October, North Korean hackers were linked to the theft of $60 million from Taiwan’s Far Eastern International Bank.

Visit today to remain updated on any and all news revolving around North Korea.

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