In South Korea addiction to gaming has become an epidemic, with murders attributed to it and psychiatric units struggling to cope. And whilst the South binges, North Korean cyber warriors have been striking.

“Sitting in a chair for a long period of time can lead to slipped discs or the formation of blood clots, causing damage to other organs” Dr Lee Jae-Won explains, as he describes how addicted online gamers play for 4 or 5 days non-stop, before being hospitalized. Dozens of killings have been attributed to online gaming and babies have been left to die by their addicted parents.

Surprisingly, that’s not the only thing South Korea has to fear from the Internet. North Korea have developed a sophisticated capacity to infiltrate the South’s computer networks. “They select the most outstanding people and engage them in professional development of software. Those people become ‘soldiers of cyber terror war'” says Jange Se-Yul, a former crack member of the South Korean cyber warfare unit. They’ve already launched a crippling attack on a major South Korean bank and attempted to plant a virus in the system of Incheon International Airport.

As Kim Hung-Kwang, one of the architects of North Korea’s cyber warfare program points out, cyber warfare may not have the fear factor of nuclear weapons, but has the potential to be just as devastating: “No drinkable water, nuclear power plants exploding, planes crashing. The damage can be massive”.

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Alexandra Bruce

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