Linking the Mugunghwa and the Maple Leaf: Defence Technology Practices in South Korea and Strategic Opportunities for Canada


Image credit: Cpl Hugo Montpetit / Canadian Armed Forces Photo


A joint publication with:


by Daniel Jacinto
September 2023


This piece is part of series funded by the Korea Foundation. This project aims to highlight Korean security challenges in which Canada can be a valuable partner, and to showcase the work of the next generation of security scholars. To access the full series and listen to the podcast episodes, go to:

Table of Contents


Information technology is fundamental to national security in the 21st century. Advances in remote technology, sensors, communication networks and artificial intelligence (AI) have pushed the boundaries for defence innovation from anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons1 to hypersonic glide vehicles,2 to the drones famously deployed in the ongoing war in Ukraine.3 Increasing dependence on computer networking has also opened a new domain in cyberspace, with the past two decades alone witnessing high-profile cyberattacks on nation states or critical infrastructure. These include:

  • Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against the Estonian government in 20074 and Georgian government in 20085;
  • The Stuxnet worm used to sabotage Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges in 2011;6
  • Data breaches of U.S. federal agencies during the 2020 SolarWinds hack;7 and
  • The ransomware attack that shut down the American Colonial Pipeline in 2021.8

South Korea has grappled first-hand with the threat of advanced warfare. Neighboured by a North Korea intent on flexing its advanced missile and cyber-capabilities, and a China in the midst of a military modernization program, South Korea is situated in a threat environment that necessitates keeping up with the bleeding edge of contemporary high-tech war. As a fellow player in the Pacific arena, and sharing a mutual ally in the United States, this also makes South Korea a prospective partner for Canada’s own ambitions in technological defence innovation. This paper examines defence technology practices in South Korea to identify strategic opportunities for Canada. The first section provides a brief overview of the relationship between technology and defence in the 21st century. The second and third sections assess defence technology practices in South Korea and Canada respectively, noting particular differences in each country’s threat environment. Taking stock of these comparisons, the article concludes by highlighting potential strategic opportunities for Canada in pursuing closer defence technology ties with South Korea.


Technology and Defence in the 21st Century: The Nature of the Threat

For observers of the information revolution, the primary challenge has been to comprehend the threat posed by these emerging technologies. Epitomized in then-U.S. Defense secretary Leon Panetta’s 2012 warning of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor,”9 a substantial focus has historically been cyberwar – the coercive use of offensive information technologies against other states – as the primary threat. For the most part, this notion stems from the idea that with a few lines of code or key presses, a nefarious agent can subvert one’s weapons or defence systems or else cripple a nation’s critical infrastructure, a fear exacerbated by the experience of the 2011 Stuxnet worm which the U.S. and Israel reportedly launched against Iran’s nuclear program. In a related line of thinking, the cyberwar threat also manifests in the capacity for cyber-tools to disrupt military, civilian or governance structures in a manner that states could perceive as an armed attack.10 For others, the escalatory potential rests in the fact that increased dependence on computing systems turns them into a key resource that states may seek to defend by a pre-emptive strike.11

However, not all observers agree that cyberwar is the primary threat from emerging technologies. Running counter to the cyber-alarmists are the (seemingly more numerous) cyber-skeptics, those who view the cyberwar threat as overstated. Pointing to the empirical paucity of cyberattacks that possess any existential threat, the difficulty of relying on anonymous attacks to elicit political objectives and the inability of cyber-tools to supplant broader strategic paradigms like deterrence or conventional force, such experts have gone so far as to claim outright that “cyber war will not take place.”12

Thus, the zeitgeist of cyberwar has diminished somewhat;13 the scholarly consensus now appears to have settled on a more nuanced approach centred on two areas: offensive cyber-capabilities below the threshold of war, and correspondingly, a more subdued understanding of the threat posed by cyber-power. In the first area, scholars have pointed to the use of cyber-tools for the purposes of political subversion or social movements;14 cumulative campaigns of sabotage or espionage aimed at long-term shifts in balance of power rather than immediate attack;15 or the deployment of cyber-tools not as a standalone, but to complement or support offensive capabilities.16 In the second area, one development has focused on how technological advances primarily enhance military capabilities through defence innovation; for example, in AI for autonomous weapons systems, or AI-guided command and control.17 Another development is that a broader understanding of cyber-threat appears to be emerging, with greater recognition of economic, social and psychological threats alongside purely those of national security,18 and a corresponding need for general cybersecurity.19


Technology and Defence in South Korea

Ranked 11th in internet access according to 2021 data from the International Telegraph Union,20 South Korea is often regarded as one of the most technologically advanced societies worldwide. In the defence realm, much of the impetus for South Korea’s technological integration stems from the Northeast Asian regional threat environment. Defence analysts have frequently commented on China’s military modernization towards informatized war that relies increasingly on advanced technology, support systems and information operations, and joint operations across domains (including the cyber-domain).21 The clearest advancement has been in the establishment of the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force, formed explicitly to harness electronic warfare capabilities.22 More recent developments include China’s move to incorporate AI technology into strategic planning and decision-making, as well as human-machine integration, shifting from purely informatized warfare to “intelligentized” combat.23 On the cyber-operations front, the U.S. government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recognizes China as an advanced persistent threat, i.e., an adversary with the resources and expertise to conduct sophisticated malicious cyberattacks geared towards espionage, data theft or network disruption.24 South Korea has occasionally been on the receiving end of these capabilities. In March 2017, Chinese hacking groups launched DDoS and malware attacks against the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Lotte Group, presumably in retaliation for the deployment of U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems.25 In January 2023, Chinese hacking groups targeted a number of Korean universities, disrupting access to some of their websites.26

North Korea is known to possess significant offensive cyber-capabilities. As noted in a 2023 report by a UN panel of experts tasked with investigating North Korean sanctions evasion, North Korea possesses an organized network of cyber-threat actors operating largely under the Technical Surveillance Bureau of North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau,27 with U.S. government estimates of up to 6,000–7,000 active personnel, some of whom are active abroad.28 These cyber-actors have launched numerous attacks on South Korea, with DDoS attacks on South Korean government and banking systems in 200929 and again in 2011,30 and a suspected virus against banks and TV broadcasters in 2013.31 Between 2016 and 2023, a number of incidents linked to North Korean hacking groups such as Thallium and Kimsuky have involved various actors in South Korea’s defence structure. Notable among these are a data breach of an unnamed defence firm which stole information on submarine-launched ballistic missiles; a malware attack that compromised 3,200 Ministry of Defense computers (including that of then-minister Han Min-goo); and attacks against a battle simulation centre affiliated with U.S.-South Korean joint operations.32 Though not directed at the South, other major attacks reportedly attributed to North Korea occurred in 2014 against Sony Pictures Entertainment in retaliation for the satirical film The Interview (about a fictional assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un).33 There was also a planned raid of up to $1 billion on Bangladesh Bank in 2016 that ultimately netted $81 million34 and the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack that infected computer systems in as many as 99 countries.35

A more recent trend has been North Korea’s targeting of crypto markets, such as the attack on South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges Bithumb in 201736 and UPbit in 2019,37 and against Vietnam-based Sky Mavis’ crypto-incorporating digital pets game Axie Infinity in 2023 which stole $625 million in cryptocurrency.38 In its most recent crypto-crime report, blockchain firm Chainalysis estimates that the value of crypto assets North Korea stole totalled $1.65 billion in 2022, compared to roughly $429 million in 2021 and $300 million in 2020.39 Testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs in November 2022, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas noted that North Korea’s cyber-heists have been used to fund the country’s weapons-of-mass-destruction programs.40

As a final observation, it is crucial to note that beyond China and North Korea, other actors in the region such as Japan41 and Taiwan42 have also experienced shifts in their cyber-securitization discourses, representing a broader regional salience of technological security.

In light of this threat environment, integration of technology and defence in South Korea can be observed in two areas: defence innovation and general cybersecurity practices. Under the Moon administration (2017–2022), technological integration for defence innovation was covered under the policy of Defense Reform 2.0. Featured in both the country’s 2018 and 2020 defence white papers,43 one of the policy’s core tenets is to incorporate fourth industrial revolution technologies (data analysis, artificial intelligence, sophisticated networking technology) to enhance the country’s operational capacity in response to resource constraints, such as demographic shifts affecting the country’s military conscription program,44 and the character of future warfare. Examples of the weapons technologies include manned and unmanned systems and smart surveillance and strike systems. On the support systems front, these include virtual simulation and training facilities, and AI-supported barracks, personnel, health and materiel management systems. More recently, the Yoon administration’s policy direction since 2022 has followed the Defense Innovation 4.0 policy line.45 As commentators have pointed out,46 this new policy places a greater emphasis on implementation tasks: strengthening research and development through private and military links; acquisition of AI-based forces and corresponding education and training; and broader strategic reconceptualization of AI technology. The policy notes technology applications including the transition from remote-controlled to semi-autonomous and autonomous weapons systems as well as robotics and drone technology.

South Korea’s cybersecurity approach is largely driven by its National Cybersecurity Strategy.47 Released under the Moon administration in 2019, the policy identifies six core tasks:

  1. Increasing the safety of national core infrastructure;
  2. Enhancing cyberattack response capabilities;
  3. Establishing cybersecurity governance based on trust and co-operation;
  4. Fostering cybersecurity industry growth;
  5. Fostering a cybersecurity culture; and
  6. Leading international co-operation in cybersecurity.

Though much of the policy’s subtasks appear rather generic or aspirational, it does refer to several specific capabilities:

  • AI-based cyberattack detection and response;
  • The use of public-private-military readiness exercises;
  • Strengthening of legal frameworks and prosecutorial capacity against perpetrators of cybercrimes; and
  • Public education programs for cyber-ethics and security practices.

Cybersecurity has also been picked up on the military front: the 2020 Defense white paper echoes the National Cybersecurity Strategy’s efforts to engage with AI-based cyberattack detection systems and cyber-simulation training. It further mentions among its achievements the restructuring and reinforcement of its joint Cyber Operations Command, the creation of dedicated cyber-positions for its officers, noncommissioned officers and civilian military employees and the creation of dedicated courses in cyber-operations for military personnel.

On a broader scale, the Yoon administration announced in September 2022 a new Digital Strategy of Korea.48 Among other objectives, the strategy stipulates greater investments in AI and cybersecurity as two of six major innovative digital technology focuses, expanding cybersecurity talent by 100,000 individuals and increasing educational programing offerings in computer education, including graduate training. Korea’s cybersecurity practices, however, are not without criticism. Observers have noted that the National Cybersecurity Strategy notwithstanding, the institutional backbone of cybersecurity governance is fragmentary, reliant on a patchwork of laws and response systems, and governance strategies separated among the military, government and public and private sectors.49

Ultimately, however, what we observe of defence innovation and general cybersecurity is a high degree of technological integration tailored to the country’s specific threat environment.


Technology and Defence in Canada

Canada faces a drastically different threat environment than South Korea. Though ongoing geopolitical uncertainties such as the war in Ukraine and global competition between the U.S. and China are likely to have long-term strategic implications, Canada appears to have fewer immediate threats. Among the core security trends identified in Canada’s 2017 defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE),50 those with the greatest potential to necessitate defence innovation likely pertain to shifts in the nature of 21st century conflict and rapid technological change. On the cybersecurity front, whereas the cyber-threats Korea faces largely stem from state actors, the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security’s National Cyber Threat Assessment reports for 2018,51 202052 and 2023–202453 have consistently identified cybercrime as the primary online threat to Canadians. A quick survey of reported cyberattacks over the past three years supports this conclusion. Although governments have been affected on occasion, for instance, the Newfoundland provincial health system in October 2021,54 Global Affairs Canada in January 202255 and Nova Scotia in June 2023,56 the remaining incidents have often been ransomware attacks aimed at municipal branches, private businesses or educational facilities. It should be stressed that these figures do not include the likely more numerous unreported cybercrimes targeted at individuals. State-sponsored cyber-operations, particularly in the realm of cyber-espionage against government and commercial actors, still remain a liability, evidenced in Canada’s decision to ban Huawei from its 5G network infrastructure57 as well as the social media app TikTok from government devices.58

Regarding technological integration for defence innovation, SSE identifies three critical categories of technological development: space, cyber and remotely piloted systems. For space, SSE points to space situational awareness, space-based Earth observation and maritime domain awareness, and satellite communications as the core applications for space technology with explicit reference to the Arctic region. In terms of cyber-capabilities, SSE is vague, mentioning only its intention to develop active cyber-operations capabilities, alongside requisite occupational and training changes. For remotely piloted systems, SSE points to varying land, air and naval applications, again explicitly focused on their potential for northern surveillance. Puzzlingly, SSE makes little mention of applications for artificial intelligence, though this may be a function of timing.

A 2021 report59 by the Canadian Army Land Warfare Centre identifies a variety of potential applications currently being considered:

  • AI assistance in command and control, communication flow (including translation), legal research and other operational decision-making;
  • Optimizing of sensor technology;
  • Data mining, simulations and training;
  • Use in combination with unmanned vehicles or robotics;
  • Network protection;
  • Supervised autonomous weapons systems; and
  • Various logistical support functions such as predictive maintenance, supply chain management and medical treatment.

Canada is governed by its own National Cyber Security Strategy released in 2018.60 Among the policy tasks listed in the document are:

  • Enhancement of law enforcement capacities to respond to cybercrime;
  • Implementation support for cybersecurity measures for small and medium-sized organizations;
  • Investing in cyber-technology research and skills building; and
  • Intergovernmental and public-private partnership in developing cybersecurity capacities.

Two gaps are worth noting: the first is that consistent with the National Cyber Threat Assessments, the policy’s thrust appears directed towards the threat of cybercrime. As previous CGAI research has shown, the establishment of active cyber-defence capabilities continues to be a weak point in Canadian cybersecurity practice.61 A second concern, here echoing SSE, is the stark absence of reference to AI technology. While Canada has adopted several AI governance measures such as the Directive on Automated Decision-Making62 and the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy,63 neither reflects the known cybersecurity threats posed by AI-enhanced cyberattacks or attacks capable of exploiting AI-based systems.64


Conclusion: Overlaps and Opportunities for Canada

A clear takeaway from the above analysis is that South Korea and Canada experience vastly different threat environments. These environments in turn appear to be reflected in varied practices pertaining to the use of technology for defence innovation, as well as in general cybersecurity approaches. Such differences notwithstanding, there are a number of intersecting points that can facilitate productive bilateral co-operation and furthering of Canada’s defence interests.

In defence innovation, overlapping objectives pertaining to several core technologies such as unmanned or remote-operated systems and sensors and surveillance technology may be fruitful for public and private partnerships aimed at defence technology research or acquisition. These innovation partnerships would be especially beneficial for Canada in cases where South Korea already possesses the requisite technology, as with AI smart training facilities or logistical support systems. However, it remains to be seen what role AI will play in Canada’s defence innovation as we await the results of the defence policy update announced in 2022.65 A creative take on these partnerships might, for instance, include jointly sponsored competitive projects, innovation contests and sandboxes or test drives akin to those deployed by the Department of National Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) funding program.66

Given the mutual threats posed in the cyber-domain, exchanges could also be pursued in cybersecurity. Efforts should be made with a view to exchanging best practices at all levels (government, military, private, individual), and, given the main threats Canada faces, may involve practices to raise general public awareness of cyber-threats, or pertain to joint readiness exercises such as those highlighted in Korea’s cybersecurity strategy. These partnerships may also help to offset Canada’s relative backwardness when it comes to cyber-defence, given Korea’s experience with state-based cyber-threats.

As a foundation for both defence innovation and cybersecurity, a final opportunity could perhaps be found in education. Academic exchanges or joint programming at the graduate or early research career levels would be an essential component in fostering future talent for technological integration for defence and further bilateral co-operation. This approach would be especially effective if it encourages disciplinary cross-pollination between STEM fields and strategic studies to satisfy both the technical and operational needs of contemporary defence. A dedicated funding stream for such exchanges, perhaps akin to DND’s Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security (MINDS) funding opportunities,67 could be leveraged for these purposes.

Ultimately, despite facing its own unique threat environment and strategic priorities, Canada has much to gain in defence innovation and cybersecurity and would do well to foster deeper co-operation with South Korea on these fronts.


End Notes

1 Mark Smith, “Anti-satellite Weapons: History, Types and Purpose,”, August 10, 2022,

2 Jeff Seldin, “What Are Hypersonic Weapons and Who Has Them?” Voice of America News, March 19, 2022,

3 Staff, “The War in Ukraine Shows How Technology Is Changing the Battlefield,” The Economist, July 3, 2023,

4 Staff, “The Cyber Raiders Hitting Estonia,” BBC News, May 17, 2007,

5 John Markoff, “Before the Gunfire, Cyberattacks,” New York Times, August 12, 2008,

6 Jonathan Fildes, “Stuxnet Worm ‘Targeted High-value Iranian Assets,’” BBC News, September 23, 2010,

7 Rishi Iyengar, “Massive SolarWinds Hack Has Big Business on High Alert,” CNN, December 19, 2020,

8 Veronica Stracqualursi, Geneva Sands and Arlette Saenz, “Cyberattack Forces Major US Fuel Pipeline to Shut Down,” CNN, May 8, 2021,

9 Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker, “Panetta Warns of Dire Threat of Cyberattack on U.S.,” New York Times, October 11, 2012,

10 Mark R. Jacobson, “War in the Information Age: International Law, Self-Defense, and the Problem of ‘Non-Armed Attacks,” Journal of Strategic Studies 21, no. 3, (September 1998): 1–23; John Stone, “Cyber War Will Take Place!” Journal of Strategic Studies 36, no. 1, (2013): 101–108.

11 Jacquelyn Schneider, “The Capability/Vulnerability Paradox and Military Revolutions: Implications for Computing, Cyber, and the Onset of War,” Journal of Strategic Studies 42, no. 6, (2019): 841–863.

12 Thomas Rid, “Cyber War Will Not Take Place,” Journal of Strategic Studies 35, no. 1, (February 2012): 5–32. For other examples of these viewpoints, see: Bradley A. Thayer, “The Political Effects of Information Warfare: Why New Military Capabilities Cause Old Political Dangers,” Security Studies 10, no. 1, (Autumn 2000): 43–85; Martin C. Libicki, “Cyberwar as a Confidence Game,” Strategic Studies Quarterly 5, no. 1, (Spring 2011): 132–147; Adam P. Liff, “Cyberwar: A New ‘Absolute Weapon’? The Proliferation of Cyberwarfare Capabilities and Interstate War,” Journal of Strategic Studies 35, no. 3, (June 2012): 401–428; Erik Gartzke, “The Myth of Cyberwar: Bringing War in Cyberspace Back Down to Earth,” International Security 38, no. 2, (Fall 2013): 41–73; Jon R. Lindsay, “Stuxnet and the Limits of Cyber Warfare,” Security Studies 22, no. 3, (2013): 365–404; Erik Gartzke and Jon R. Lindsay, “Weaving Tangled Webs: Offense, Defense, and Deception in Cyberspace,” Security Studies 24, no. 2, (2015): 316– 348; Ian Bowers and Sarah Kirchberger, “Not So Disruptive After All: The 4IR, Navies and the Search for Sea Control,” Journal of Strategic Studies 44, no. 4, (2021): 613–636.

13 Samuel Zilincik and Isabelle Duyvesteyn, “Strategic Studies and Cyber Warfare,” Journal of Strategic Studies, (2023): 1–22.

14 David Betz, “Cyberpower in Strategic Affairs: Neither Unthinkable nor Blessed,” Journal of Strategic Studies 35, no. 5, (October 2012): 689–711; Lennart Maschmeyer, “A New and Better Quiet Option? Strategies of Subversion and Cyber Conflict,” Journal of Strategic Studies 46, no. 3, (2023): 570–594.

15 Christopher Whyte, “Power and Predation in Cyberspace,” Strategic Studies Quarterly 9, no. 1, (Spring 2015): 100–118; Martin C. Libicki, “The Convergence of Information Warfare,” Strategic Studies Quarterly 11, no. 1, (Spring 2017): 49–65; Benjamin Jensen, Brandon Valeriano and Ryan Maness, “Fancy Bears and Digital Trolls: Cyber Strategy With a Russian Twist,” Journal of Strategic Studies 42, no. 2 (2019): 212–234; Richard J. Harknett and Max Smeets, “Cyber Campaigns and Strategic Outcomes,” Journal of Strategic Studies 45, no. 4 (2022): 534–567.

16 Jacquelyn Schneider, Benjamin Schechter and Rachael Shaffer, “A Lot of Cyber Fizzle But Not A Lot of Bang: Evidence about the Use of Cyber Operations from Wargames,” Journal of Global Security Studies 7, no. 2 (2022): 1 –19; Harknett and Smeets, 534–567.

17 Michael C. Horowitz, “When Speed Kills: Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems, Deterrence and Stability,” Journal of Strategic Studies 42, no. 6 (2019): 764–788; James S. Johnson, “Artificial Intelligence: A Threat to Strategic Stability,” Strategic Studies Quarterly 14, no. 1 (2020): 16–39; James Johnson, “Delegating Strategic Decision-making to Machines: Dr. Strangelove Redux?” Journal of Strategic Studies 45, no. 3 (2022): 439–477; Christopher Whyte, “Poison, Persistence, and Cascade Effects: AI and Cyber Conflict,” Strategic Studies Quarterly 14, no. 4 (Winter 2020): 18–46; James Johnson, “‘Catalytic Nuclear War’ in the Age of Artificial Intelligence & Autonomy: Emerging Military Technology and Escalation Risk Between Nuclear-armed States,” Journal of Strategic Studies (2021): 1–41; Michael Raska, “The Sixth RMA Wave: Disruption in Military Affairs?” Journal of Strategic Studies 44, no. 4 (2021): 456–479.

18 John B. Sheldon, “Deciphering Cyberpower: Strategic Purpose in Peace and War,” Strategic Studies Quarterly 5, no. 2 (Summer 2011): 95–112; Lucas Kello, “The Meaning of the Cyber Revolution: Perils to Theory and Statecraft,” International Security 38, no. 2, (Fall 2013): 7–40; Nadiya Kostyuk and Carly Wayne, “The Microfoundations of State Cybersecurity: Cyber Risk Perceptions and the Mass Public,” Journal of Global Security Studies 6, no. 2 (2021): 1–25; Ryan Shandler, Michael L. Gross and Daphna Canetti, “Cyberattacks, Psychological Distress, and Military Escalation: An Internal Meta-Analysis,” Journal of Global Security Studies 8, no. 1 (2023): 1 –19.

19 Gary McGraw, “Cyber War Is Inevitable (Unless We Build Security In),” Journal of Strategic Studies 36, no. 1 (2013): 109–119.

20 Internet usage statistics available from International Telegraph Union,

21 Jacqueline Newmyer, “The Revolution in Military Affairs with Chinese Characteristics,” Journal of Strategic Studies 33, no. 4 (August 2010): 483–504; Dennis J. Blasko, “Integrating the Services and Harnessing the Military Area Commands,” Journal of Strategic Studies 39, nos. 5–6 (2016): 685–708.

22 Elsa B. Kania and John Costello, “Seizing the Commanding Heights: The PLA Strategic Support Force in Chinese Military Power,” Journal of Strategic Studies 44, no. 2 (2021): 218–264; Nam Tae Park, Changhyung Lee and Soyeon Kim, “Analysis of Electronic Warfare Capability of the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force (PLASSF): Its Impacts and Implications on Korean Security,” The Korean Journal of Defense Analysis 33, no. 1 (March 2021): 119–140.

23 Elsa B. Kania, “Artificial Intelligence in China’s Revolution in Military Affairs,” Journal of Strategic Studies 44, no. 4 (2021): 515–542.

24 Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, “China Cyber Threat Overview and Advisories,”

25 Staff, “S. Korean Foreign Ministry Gets Several DDoS Attacks from China,” Yonhap News Agency, March 28, 2017,; Ibid., “Lotte’s Chinese Website Hacked in Protest of U.S. Missile Defense System,” March 1, 2017,

26 Kim Seung-yeon, “Chinese Hackers Attack 12 S. Korean Academic Institutions: KISA,” Yonhap News Agency, January 25, 2023,

27 United Nations Security Council, Final Report of the Panel of Experts Submitted Pursuant to Resolution 2627 (2022), S/2023/171. Other reports from the Panel of Experts can be found at:

28 Congressional Research Service, “North Korean Cyber Capabilities: In Brief,” August 3, 2017,; “North Korean Cyber Activity,” Presentation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Cybersecurity Program, March 25, 2021,

29 Matthew Weaver, “Cyber Attackers Target South Korea and US,” The Guardian, July 8, 2009,

30 Staff, “South Korea Hit by Cyber Attacks,” BBC News, March 4, 2011,

31 Choe Sang-Hun, “Computer Networks in South Korea Are Paralyzed in Cyberattacks,” New York Times, March 20, 2013,

32 Staff, “S. Korean Defense Firms Vigilant Against Hacking: Ministry,” Yonhap News Agency, September 26, 2017,; Ibid., “Military Investigators Raid Cyber Command in Hacking Probe,” December  13, 2016,; Shin Ji-hye, “NK Hacking Group Targets Korea-US Combined Exercise,” The Korea Herald, August 20, 2023, For other examples, see: Kwan-Seok Jang, “Hacking Attempts Made on 30 Computers of Defense Acquisition Agency,” Dong-A Ilbo, January 15, 2019,; Kim Boram, “N. Korea-linked Hackers Attempt to Break Into Emails of Seoul’s Defense Panel Members,” Yonhap News Agency, September 12, 2021,

33 Staff, “The Interview: A Guide to the Cyber Attack on Hollywood,” BBC News, December 29, 2014,

34 Ibid., “The Lazarus Heist: How North Korea Almost Pulled Off a Billion-dollar Hack,” June 20, 2021,

35 Ibid., “Massive Ransomware Infection Hits Computers in 99 Countries,” May 13, 2017,

36 Ibid., “North Korea ‘Hacked Crypto-currency Exchange in South,’” December 16, 2017,

37 Jon Biggs, “North Korean Hackers Target Crypto Exchange UPbit’s South Korean Users,” CoinDesk, May 30, 2019,

38 Robert McMillan and Dustin Volz, “How North Korea’s Hacker Army Stole $3 Billion in Crypto, Funding Nuclear Program,” Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2023,

39 Chainalysis, “2023 Crypto Crime Report,”

40 Alejandro N. Mayorkas, “Threats to the Homeland,” Testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, November 17, 2022,

41 Paul Kallender and Christopher W. Hughes, “Japan’s Emerging Trajectory as a ‘Cyber Power’: From Securitization to Militarization of Cyberspace,” Journal of Strategic Studies 40, nos. 1–2 (2017): 118–145.

42 Hon-min Yau, “Framing Cyber Security in Taiwan: A Perspective of Discursive Knowledge Production,” The Korean Journal of Defense Analysis 32, no. 3 (September 2020): 457–474.

43 Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense, 2018 Defense White Paper,; Ibid., 2020 Defense White Paper,

44 Byung-ook Choi, “The Future of the Korean Military Service System: Direction and Challenge for New Korean Military Service System Innovation,” The Korean Journal of Defense Analysis 33, no. 3 (September 2021): 481–505.

45 Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense, “Defense Innovation 4.0,”

46 Kihyun Yoo and Donghwan Yun, “The Conceptual Framework of Korean Defense Innovation 4.0: Transition to High-Tech Army in the Era of 4IR,” The Korean Journal of Defense Analysis 35, no. 2 (June 2023): 165–188.

47 Republic of Korea, National Cybersecurity Strategy,

48 Republic of Korea Ministry of Science and ICT, “Korea to Come Up With the Roadmap of Digital ROK, Realizing the New York Initiative,” September 28, 2022,

49 Do-Kyung Kim and Soon-Yang Kim, “Reframing South Korea’s National Cybersecurity Governance System in Critical Information Infrastructure,” The Korean Journal of Defense Analysis 33, no. 4 (December 2021): 689–713; So Jeong Kim and Sunha Bae, “Korean Politics of Cybersecurity and Data Resilience,” in The Korean Way With Data, Evan A. Feigenbaum and Michael R. Nelson, eds. (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2021), 39–60.

50 Canada Department of National Defence, Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy, 2017,

51 Canadian Centre for Cyber Security, National Cyber Threat Assessment 2018,

52 Ibid., 2020,

53 Ibid., 20232024,

54 Rob Antle, “N.L. Says Hive Ransomware Group Was Behind 2021 Cyberattack on Health Systems,” CBC, March 14, 2023,

55 Peter Zimonjic, “Federal Government Investigating After Cyberattack Hits Global Affairs,” CBC, January 24, 2022,

56 Jean Laroche, “Members of the Public Among Those Affected By Massive N.S. Cyberattack,” CBC, June 9, 2023,

57 Catharine Tunney and Richard Raycraft, “Canada Bans Chinese Tech Giant Huawei From 5G Network,” CBC, May 19, 2022,

58 Richard Raycraft, “Federal Government Banning Social Media Platform TikTok From Government Phones,” CBC, February 27, 2023,

59 Geoffrey Priems and Peter Gizewski, “Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Canada’s Army: Current Possibilities and Future Challenges,” Canadian Army Journal 19, no. 2 (2021): 40–51,

60 Public Safety Canada, National Cyber Security Strategy: Canada’s Vision for Security and Prosperity in the Digital Age, 2018,

61 Alexander Rudolph, “Canada’s Active Cyber-Defence Is Anything But Active,” Canadian Global Affairs Institute, July 2021,; Ibid., “When Empty Promises are Literally Empty: Canadian Cyber-Defence Policy by Ad-Hoc,” July 2022,

62 Government of Canada, Directive on Automated Decision-Making,

63 Ibid., Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy,

64 For a discussion of AI-enhanced and AI-exploiting cyberattacks, see Whyte (2020).

65 Canada Department of National Defence, “We Want to Hear From You,”

66 Ibid., “Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security,”

67 Ibid., “Mobilizing Insights in Defence and Security,”


About the Author

Daniel Jacinto is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science at McGill University. Daniel’s research interests broadly span the areas of international security and global governance, with a regional interest in East Asia (and the Korean Peninsula, in particular). His doctoral research project looks at so-called ‘rogue states’—such as North Korea—and their relationship to international society.

Daniel holds a B.A. (Hons. Korean Language and Culture, International Relations) and an M.A. (Political Science) from the University of British Columbia.


Canadian Global Affairs Institute

The Canadian Global Affairs Institute focuses on the entire range of Canada’s international relations in all its forms including trade investment and international capacity building. Successor to the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI, which was established in 2001), the Institute works to inform Canadians about the importance of having a respected and influential voice in those parts of the globe where Canada has significant interests due to trade and investment, origins of Canada’s population, geographic security (and especially security of North America in conjunction with the United States), social development, or the peace and freedom of allied nations. The Institute aims to demonstrate to Canadians the importance of comprehensive foreign, defence and trade policies which both express our values and represent our interests.

The Institute was created to bridge the gap between what Canadians need to know about Canadian international activities and what they do know. Historically Canadians have tended to look abroad out of a search for markets because Canada depends heavily on foreign trade. In the modern post-Cold War world, however, global security and stability have become the bedrocks of global commerce and the free movement of people, goods and ideas across international boundaries. Canada has striven to open the world since the 1930s and was a driving factor behind the adoption of the main structures which underpin globalization such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and emerging free trade networks connecting dozens of international economies. The Canadian Global Affairs Institute recognizes Canada’s contribution to a globalized world and aims to inform Canadians about Canada’s role in that process and the connection between globalization and security.

In all its activities the Institute is a charitable, non-partisan, non-advocacy organization that provides a platform for a variety of viewpoints. It is supported financially by the contributions of individuals, foundations, and corporations. Conclusions or opinions expressed in Institute publications and programs are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Institute staff, fellows, directors, advisors or any individuals or organizations that provide financial support to, or collaborate with, the Institute.


Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 2720, 700–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3V4


Calgary Office Phone: (587) 574-4757


Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6


Ottawa Office Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]


Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.


©2002-2024 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email