A defense ministry official from South Korea has told CNN that their military is developing a special forces unit designed from its very inception to target and kill controversial North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the event of war between the two nations.
Although CNN and other news sources reporting the story refer to the rapidly developing military group as a “decapitation unit,” no official South Korean sources can be quoted referring to it as such. It does appear, however, that the unit will be tasked with targeting North Korea’s war time command structure, which would indicate they are indeed planning for the assassination of the state leader. This unit will likely be composed of members of South Korea’s Army Special Warfare Command (SWC), already tasked with guerrilla warfare and counterterrorism. If the term “decapitation” actually came from CNN’s anonymous source, it is significantly more likely that it was intended as a metaphor for removing the head of the North Korean government and military as pertains to its command structure, rather than Kim Jong-un’s actual head.
But then, even publicly announcing such a plan is out of the ordinary.
Contrary to what many may believe, the assassination of world leaders is not expressively forbidden by the Geneva Convention during a time of war, and years of fighting terrorist organizations whose leaders cannot be considered “heads of state” have muddied the waters around the legality of such targeted actions. In effect, South Korea’s decision to form an elite “assassination squad” isn’t illegal, nor is it really even in violation of the United States’—the country’s most valuable ally—laws regarding such military actions.