Combined cyber army of ROK and UK performed first exercise following strategic partnership

By Dain Oh, The Readable
Feb. 22, 2024 10:17PM GMT+9

Several South Korean government agencies responsible for national cyber defense collaborated with the British military to conduct a joint international cyber exercise. This cooperative training, aimed at testing their combined capabilities to counter cyberattacks, concluded on February 16 after a week-long session.

In an email statement to The Readable on February 21, the British Embassy in Seoul confirmed that this training marked the first-ever combined military exercise between South Korea and the United Kingdom.

The Defense Cyber Marvel (DCM), organized by the U.K. Army Cyber Association, began as a domestic training event in 2022 before expanding to an international scale the following year. According to a press release from South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) on Wednesday, this year’s iteration, dubbed “DCM3,” saw participation from 17 countries, including Japan, Germany, and France, with a total of 46 teams.

The joint exercise between the two countries was organized under the Strategic Cyber Partnership, which was signed by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on November 22 last year. This agreement was in line with the “Downing Street Accord,” a mutual agreement reached by the leaders two days prior.

A spokesperson from the British Embassy told The Readable, “The exercise provides personnel with the opportunity to train in a controlled environment, using cutting-edge science and technology such as 5G, the Internet of Things, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence to combat cyber threats.” The spokesperson further added, “As one of the world’s largest ‘live-fire’ cyber exercises, the 2024 DCM3 united teams from across the globe.”

South Korea participated in the DCM for the first time this year, assembling a team with members drawn from three key groups serving the nation: the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the Army Cyber Operation Center, and the National Security Research Institute. This team worked alongside personnel from the British Army’s 16th Signal Regiment from February 9 to February 16 at the Korean National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC) in Pangyo. Pangyo is known as a hub for major technology firms. Together, they engaged in exercises to defend networks across army, satellite, healthcare, and government sectors against virtually orchestrated cyberattacks.

The joint team from South Korea (ROK) and the U.K. emerged victorious in the competition, achieving the highest overall score among the 46 participating teams. “We were able to enhance our cyber capabilities to address the constantly evolving threats, in addition to strengthening our security cooperation with the U.K.,” the National Intelligence Service (NIS) stated in its announcement of the DCM3 results.

“The U.K. and ROK are dedicated to fostering a cyberspace that is open, free, peaceful, and secure, respects international law, and promotes economic growth,” a spokesperson from the British Embassy conveyed to The Readable. “Exercises such as DCM3 offer a high-quality training platform, enabling the UK and ROK to collaborate effectively and enhance interoperability,” the spokesperson further elaborated.

Even before the Downing Street Accord was signed last year, the two countries had been actively working together to address cyber threats. For instance, in June 2022, South Korea and the UK established a bilateral framework to enhance their collaboration, committing to “cooperation on deterring cyber adversaries” and “combating cybercrime.”

What makes this article different from the others

  • The Readable included comments from the British Embassy Seoul to help readers understand the significance of the cyber exercise.

The cover image of this article was designed by Areum Hwang. This article was copyedited by Arthur Gregory Willers.

Dain Oh is a distinguished journalist based in South Korea, recognized for her exceptional contributions to the field. As the founder and editor-in-chief of The Readable, she has demonstrated her expertise in leading media outlets to success. Prior to establishing The Readable, Dain was a journalist for The Electronic Times, a prestigious IT newspaper in Korea. During her tenure, she extensively covered the cybersecurity industry, delivering groundbreaking reports. Her work included exclusive stories, such as the revelation of incident response information sharing by the National Intelligence Service. These accomplishments led to her receiving the Journalist of the Year Award in 2021 by the Korea Institute of Information Security and Cryptology, a well-deserved accolade bestowed upon her through a unanimous decision. Dain has been invited to speak at several global conferences, including the APEC Women in STEM Principles and Actions, which was funded by the U.S. State Department. Additionally, she is an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association, further exhibiting her commitment to journalism.