Piracy proves profitable: Korea’s IntelEdge takes on Somalia
Yonhap Seoul, Korea January 2, 2012
The famous Korean Admiral Yi Sun-shin never battled Blackbeard, Calico Jack or Captain Kidd, but his distant descendants are now joining the struggle against 21st century sea wolves — on a freelance basis.
With Korea’s economy hinging on global trade, mostly seaborne, there is a clear requirement for maritime security. And with Korea’s military generating a pool of trained professionals, private military contractors (PMCs) are supplying the security demands of Korean merchant shipping.
These “sea marshals” are not easy to find. They are virtually invisible on the Internet (a considerable feat in itself). A meeting with an executive required an introduction from a private investigator. The executive asked to meet in a coffee shop rather than his office and declined to be photographed.
Lim Yong-beom was casually dressed and in his early 40s. Of average height, he has a gentle handshake, but when he removed his jacket, a Homeric physique was apparent beneath his shirt. Lim, a special forces veteran, is the chief intelligence officer of IntelEdge, a PMC founded in 2010 that provides maritime security, consulting, intelligence and specialized hardware.
“We have around 20 regular contractors, all ex-Special Forces, and another 20 temporary, mostly British,” said Lim, whose post-military service experience with PMCs includes work in West Africa and the Middle East.
Korean sea marshals are recruited from veterans of the most elite units, Lim explained. These comprise the army special forces of the 707 Battalion (similar to the US Delta Force or British SAS); the naval commandos of SEAL-UDT, or Sea-Air-Land/Underwater Demolition teams (who won fame for the storming of the captured “Samho Dream” last January); and the operators of HID, or Headquarters Intelligence Detachment (a black operations unit so secret that the Ministry of National Defense denies its existence).
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