The South Korean government plans to develop sophisticated cyber weapons similar to the notorious Stuxnet malware, according to reports from the country's Yonhap news agency.
The weapons are part of a wider government strategy to bolster the nation's cyber-offensive capabilities.
Yonhap reported that an unnamed source within the ministry confirmed the strategy will see the South Korean government funding the creation and deployment of sophisticated malware designed to sabotage North Korea's missile and atomic facilities.
"Once the second phase plan is established, the cyber command will carry out comprehensive cyber warfare missions," said the unnamed source.
The strategy will also reportedly include malware designed to brutalise the source of any campaign targeting South Korean systems with retaliatory attacks, though details about how exactly this will work remain unknown.
It will also fund the creation of a new Cyber Defense Department that will be run by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) in May. The department will act as the control tower of cyber warfare missions.
"The new department will oversee the defensive cyber warfare missions when major networks are hit by hacking attacks, while carrying out orders of the chairman of the joint chiefs," Yonhap's source said.
The news comes just after the Korean Ministry of Defense announced a new cyber attack information-sharing information partnership with the US.
The partnership was announced at the first Korea-US National Defense Cyber Cooperation Working Group (CCWG) in Seoul on 7 February and will lead to the two nations sharing information about cyber threats.
The US is commonly believed to have funded the creation of the original Stuxnet malware. Stuxnet is a cyber sabotage tool that was first discovered in 2011 targeting Iranian nuclear facilities.
Despite the targeted nature of the malware, Stuxnet later spread outside of its intended target base and has appeared on several cyber black markets and within several unexpected systems.
Security tycoon Eugene Kaspersky reported the malware had managed to infect a Russian nuclear facility in 2013. Researchers have warned it is only a matter of time until a Stuxnet infection is detected in the UK.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago