North Korea may be jamming the global positioning systems of airliners flying into South Korea, a government official said.
A total of 252 planes flying in and out of Incheon International and Gimpo airports since April 28 have had signals jammed as of 10:40 a.m. today, the Land Ministry said today in a statement on its website. Affected airlines include Korean Air Lines Co. (003490) and Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. (293), ministry official Yang Chang Saeng said by phone.
“The signals are believed to be coming from North Korea and we are keeping a close watch on this, considering the current situation on the peninsula,” said Lee Kyung Oh, an official at the Korea Communications Commission in Seoul.
North Korea threatened last month to turn South Korean President Lee Myung Bak and his government “to ashes in three or four minutes” using “unprecedented peculiar means and methods.” The regime’s heightened rhetoric over the past month and its botched April 13 rocket launch has prompted speculation it will soon detonate a nuclear device.
“The North Korean philosophy has been to attack in ways that makes it hard to tell that they were behind it,” said Ahn Cheol Hyun, a former National Intelligence Service agent and head of Ahn’s Institute of Crisis Management in Seoul. “Signal jamming and cyber attacks have been a low-cost, high-efficiency way to provoke because you can never 100 percent prove that they were responsible.”
Also affected by the jamming are FedEx Corp. (FDX:US), Japan Airlines Co. and Thai Airway, the Land Ministry said. All flights are operating as usual as pilots are using alternative navigation systems when jams are noted, Yang said. Pilots and airlines were alerted on April 28 and the KCC is investigating the jamming, he added.
South Korea’s military equipment hasn’t been affected by the jamming of signals, a Defense Ministry official told reporters today in Seoul. He declined to be identified, citing military policy.
To contact the reporter on this story: Sangwon Yoon in Seoul at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at email@example.com; John Brinsley at firstname.lastname@example.org