It is believed by Western intelligence agencies that North Korea created a Breach during their October 9, 2006 nuclear test in the mountains of Hwadae county, 375 km (230 miles) northeast of the capital of Pyongyang. This Breach was investigated and North Korea launched a national delving program. The North Koreans detonated a bomb in 2009 in close proximity to their first detonation. This is believed to be a sucessful effort to seal their Gate and North Korean delving operations are thought to have ended at this point.
When detonated the 2006 bomb produced an extremely low yield (in the neighborhood of four kilotons) leading to speculation that the test was a failure or even a hoax. However those familiar with Breach events recognized an abnormally low yield as an indication that the weapon had opened a gate to the Subterrestrial Operations Theater. On October 16, 2006, U.S. spy satellites detected vehicles and people near the site of North Korea's initial nuclear test lending credence to the theory. The existence of a weak Gate signal in North Korea was later confirmed via D-Twist neutrino observation.
Col. Kwak defects
Due to the closed nature of North Korean society nothing was known about the nature or even existence of a North Korean delving program. This changed with the defection of a senior North Korean military officer across the DMZ in 2008. Col. Kwak Yubin's accurate descriptions of the SOT and the belief that he used stolen xenotech in his defection support his claim that he was a member of NK Gate operations. He relayed the following information to DEEP BLACK operatives following his processing by South Korean officials.
1) The NK Gate was unstable, small, and dangerous to pass through. There were a wide range of temporal anomalies around the Hwadae Gate. Col. Kwak spoke of teams being sent down into the SOT and returning only minutes later despite claiming to have been down for weeks.
2) The NK Gate opens "deeper" into the SOT than any previously opened. Col. Kwak's descriptions of the topology and xenofauna are consistent with that surrounding the Second and even the Third Landing.
3) After suffering high casualties during initial exploration (a repeating theme of most delving programs) the North Koreans pulled their military back to guard the surface and sent political prisoners into the SOT. The prisoners were only given food if they retrieved substances of value and were offered pardons for themselves and their families in exchange for xenotech.
4) Despite high casulty rates the prisoners were able to bring up suprisingly high-grade xenotech. Apparently Kim Jong-il now has a black bladed weapon called Gumjeongmyeondogal (translation neeeded).
5) After several months the recovery of xenotech from the NK Gate all but ceased (although minerals were still being brought up at a rapid pace). The North Korean authorities believe that the politcal prisoners had hybridized and were hoarding xenotech. Not even the executions of the families of several prisoners was able to rectify this behavior. Col. Kwak was ordered to sort matters out shortly before his defection. There were rumors of potent xenotech in the possession of the hybrids in the form of a hammer and a trident.
6) In addition to the xenotech extraction teams (manned by political prisoners) the North Koreans set up large-scale tunneling operations from their Gate. The intent was to tunnel directly under Seoul and deploy a large number of xenotech in the area, bypassing the defenses of the DMZ.
This indicated an apalling ignorance of the North Koreans on the nature of the SOT. Not only is navigating the SOT extremely difficult and hazardous, it is clearly extradimensional in nature. Seismic surveys of the "roof" show only rock to the limits of our sensors. Early efforts to tunnel upwards have found only rock as far as the experiment continued.
Accordingly the threat was judged to be non-existent by BLACKLIST and no alerts were issued either to the South Korean government or USPACOM.
7) Due to the existance of large numbers of pre-existing tunnels, LONG STAIR has not engaged in a great deal of tunneling. However, Col. Kwak reports that there is a large drop off in SOT anomolies in constructed versus pre-existing shafts. A memo suggesting further study of this matter was forwarded to LONG STAIR command. The idea was rejected with needless profanity but intercepts indicate the Delver Combat Engineers are receptive to the idea if supplied with the necessary resources. No further action has been taken on the matter.
On May 25, 2009 North Korea detonated another nuclear weapon (their second to date). The second detonation was in close proximity to the Gate created in 2006. BLACKLIST believes the only rational reason for detonating a nuclear device in the vicinity of an active Gate is an effort to seal off access to it. National Command Authorities were alerted to this event and concurred with BLACKLIST's assessment.
An effort to seal off the SOT from access to the surface is called a CAUTERY event and rationally would only happen in the most dire circumstances. (See also: BREAKOUT and RUNAWAY contingencies). North Korea was put under close observation and alert orders were issued to USPACOM under the guise of responding to North Korea's test.
While the North Korean test drew international condemnation, no SOT-related phenomenon have been observed. If North Korea attempted to seal their Gate that effort is presumed to have succeeded. Why the Gate was sealed remains open to speculation.
According to Brigadier Stevens of WALKABOUT (the Australian Gate program) the 2009 detonation was instigated by North Korean officers after an assault by CALMAR (aka brain flensers) on the North Korean Gate.
Stevens went on to claim that the North Koreans had planned to stabilize their Gate via a series of atomic detonations. This effort was subverted by The Surgeon, a notorious BAD WOLF, who had altered the bombs to create additional Breaches. This information was allegedly relayed by an Australian team involved in stopping The Surgeon's plan.
While LONG STAIR and WALKABOUT personnell have close personal ties, this information has not been confirmed by any other sources.
Relations with other programs
The North Korean delving program is presumed to be defunct following the 2009 detonations.
No encounters with North Korean personnel have been reported in the SOT by LONG STAIR. WALKABOUT has reported contacts but has kept their nature secret. It is strongly suspected, but not confirmed, that China may have been involved in the North Korean program.
It is unknown if the North Koreans were aware of the delving programs of other nations.
Many thanks to Daztur who really fluffed this out.