And attacking Seoul would be the goal. But could Kim actually pull it off?
A 2011 study by the Nautilus Institute throws a considerable amount of cold water on this scenario. While the sheer number of artillery tubes could theoretically kill a large number of civilians, operational issues complicate matters and push the number of civilian casualties greatly downward. Despite the thousands of artillery pieces, only 700 heavier guns and rocket launchers, plus the newer 300-millimeter MRLs, have the range to strike Seoul. Only a third would normally be fired at once, and notional rates of fire would be slowed tremendously by the need to withdraw guns into their hardened artillery sites (HARTS) to shelter them from counter battery fire.
For most armies, artillery is just one component of an all-arms force consisting of infantry, armor and artillery. But North Korea’s curious strategic location, with the enemy capital within striking range, has turned the country’s arsenal of howitzers and rocket launchers collectively into a weapon of mass destruction, capable of reducing Seoul to rubble within days. Or does it? Has the threat to the capital by North Korea’s “King of Battle” been overstated?
During the Cold War, North Korea built up an oversized army—and artillery corps—as part of its goal of re-invading South Korea. The North Korean People’s Army Artillery Command is responsible for 12,000 pieces of tube artillery and 2,300 pieces of multiple launch rocket artillery over 107-millimeters. The majority of tube artillery are 122-, 130-, 152- and 170-millimeter units, and on the rocket side the majority are 240-millimeter units.