In what ways is Seoul fortified against a military invasion

I know South Korea has a pretty large military when you factor in the reserve troops, close to 4 million troops. I know they have a pretty modern military including weaponry on the border designed to attack artillery, shoot down shells, shoot down missiles, etc.

But I once read a short article about how Seoul itself has been designed to be heavily fortified against an invasion. The only thing I remember from the article is that the major roadways are designed so that they can be closed off in case of a major invasion by demolishing concrete barriers above the roads.

But in what ways is Seoul designed to withstand an invasion? Are there special military installations, equipment and tactics there you wouldn’t see in a place like NYC?

Is Seoul designed to become a fortress in case of invasion? If so, how?

Wesley Clark, I’ll be interested in the direct answer to your question (should you get one).

The answer to the question, in a larger sense as you and I know is “United States Force Korea (USFK).” That trip wire is what keeps the peace or had been keeping the peace for decades. Over the last decade or so, I think the South Korean could take care of themselves, as the Chinese probably wouldn’t support an invasion at this point.

AIUI, there are a lot of tunnels and underground shelters for riding out artillery bombardment, etc. and also a substantial number of gas masks or whatnot for protection against chem warfare. I can’t recall any source to cite for that though.

Seoul honestly probably doesn’t need much fortification, though. Much of North Korea’s ballyhooed arty capability actually cannot reach that far to hit Seoul. And the very nature of a huge urban city itself makes for an extremely formidable target (for invaders to try to conquer.) Every building, obstacle, etc. tends to favor the defense. The North Koreans would be extremely hard-pressed to capture a city in urban warfare, especially with deficiencies in night warfare, attack helicopters, etc. It would be like Stalingrad except even easier for the defenders.

The city itself is one thing, but the metropolitan area isn’t especially fortified. As one of the largest cities in the world, there are a few suburbs extending pretty much up to the DMZ. A large minority if not outright majority of the population of the country lives in the metropolitan area (thought not necessarily the city proper).

Plus there are various tank traps on the roads leading into Seoul. (I don’t recall seeing them inside Seoul, though.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xKw6jl9aPkA

There are subways which are designated as shelters, and also bridges designed for demolition. Anyone who drives north can see the collapsible tank barriers that others have mentioned. Seoul also has some rivers that would be impassible to armor without bridges.

But as Velocity pointed out, in some ways these
Things are hardly relevant. Try driving in the densest, most congested part of New York City at rush hour. That’s what Seoul is like. The streets are a maze, many roads are one-way, and underground pedestrian / subway areas are common. Artillery fire would leave debris and collapsed buildings all over the place, which would make roads totally impassable. And as they attempt to negotiate those roads, they are surrounded by skyscrapers in which snipers, ambushes, and antitank weapons could have clear lines of fire.

In short, the fighting would be more like something you’d see in Stalingrad. Individual buildings and landmarks would turn into battalion- or even brigade-level key terrain. The North Korean advance would come to a screeching halt, and as they worked their way through the city their already-poor sustainment would get pounded by US air power. They would be able to scavenge plenty of fuel and food, but no ammunition.

Sorry if this got a little off topic, but TLDR: The city itself would turn into a resource-sucking quagmire just by virtue of its scale and density.

Are you suggesting that North Korean troops have obedience so drilled into them that they would be compelled to obey the one-way signs? :slight_smile:

They may not understand the vehicle traffic lights but they will understand the “Don’t Walk” signs.

I know this isn’t what you asked, but I don’t think the North Koreans are stupid. Instead of invading, they’d shell the shit out of Seoul (and its suburbs) and wait for the South Korean invasion designed to stop the bombardment–and now the South Koreans are heading into the teeth of the NK defenses.

Agreed. A much more reasonable scenario is that they make a limited invasion to the east and then “bite and hold” while waiting for some manner of negotiated concessions.

Not that these are ‘reasonable’ people but it is more logical than trying to re-fight the plan from 1950.

Yes. Part of the plan for the defense of SK is to turn all those signs to point north. :slight_smile:

BTW, many/most of the NK guns can’t reach Seoul?

They can only reach a fraction of Seoul, only some could be used for attacking Seoul, most Seoul residents would take cover quickly after the word of attack spread, South Korean counter-battery fire would start almost immediately and a number of other factors would heavily limit the North Korean attack.

Interesting map of density in kg/hr/km^2 of ‘explosives’* NK can deliver along the border. Much higher in the areas just south of the DMZ in range of ordinary field pieces. Only very long range guns plus large caliber artillery rockets can reach central Seoul. Not that it would be a pleasant situation.

The other basic fact I think is sometimes ignored from US perspective is how the ROK and US situations wrt DPRK have tended to diverge. Recent possible (gets very US partisan to evaluate, I find) progress in diplomacy with DPRK aside, they are pretty close to the ability to threaten the US directly with nuclear attack. This makes it less IMO likely they’d pursue a strategy of attacking the ROK as part of a premptive strategy against the US. Maybe in response to a US military attack on NK though.

The more likely strategies (assuming rationality, though that’s not certain either) are IMO some combination of getting the US to back away from its commitments to ROK as part of a US-DPRK accommodation on DPRK long range nuclear capability, then also trying to get the kind of relative security in power the Chinese Communist Party has by developing the DPRK economy something like the PRC has. Then use the isolation of the ROK and improvement in DPRK’s economic lot to exert pressure on ROK further down the road with shorter range nuclear as well as conventional power.

*I guess this might actually be calculated as weight of shells/rockets rather than weight of explosives they contain, but anyway gives a relative idea.