Report: North leader ordered ‘do-or-die’ squads

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Report: North leader ordered ‘do-or-die’ squads

Following North Korea’s crushing defeat by the South in last year’s skirmish in the Yellow Sea, the communist regime’s leader, Kim Jong-il, directed its navy to intensify training “to raise heroes for do-or-die squads at sea,” North Korea’s media reported Tuesday night.

The inter-Korean skirmish took place on Nov. 10, 2009, near the maritime border in the waters west of the peninsula.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff have said a North Korean patrol boat violated the maritime border despite the South’s warning shot.

The North fired back and the two sides engaged in a skirmish. The North Korean boat was destroyed and towed into its own waters.

In an appearance with North Korea’s Central TV on Tuesday night, Kim Gwang-il, an officer of the North’s West Sea Navy Fleet Command, spoke about his leader’s visit and his directive to the command after the defeat.

“Do the comrades know why I visit this unit frequently?” the navy officer quoted Kim Jong-il as saying after he observed a training session. “It’s because I trust you the most.”

The North Korean leader’s remarks about “do-or-die squads” stood out as speculations snowball that the North was behind the sinking of the South Korean Navy warship Cheonan.

“The supreme commander visited our unit at dawn and boarded a naval vessel,” Kim Gwang-il said.

“He also instructed us to upgrade the warships’ weapons systems and combat technologies to meet the needs of modern-day warfare.”

The North Korean Navy officer also claimed that the North actually was the winner of last year’s skirmish, insisting that it had destroyed six South Korean ships.

Last year, North Korean media reported that Kim visited a navy command on Nov. 27, 17 days after the incident.

At the time, South Korean intelligence authorities confirmed that Kim had visited a unit in Nampo on the North’s west coast.

In addition to the navy officer’s statements, the broadcaster also aired other military officials’ remarks about the country’s military training.

In early January, North Korea’s tank division conducted a drill that simulated an advance into the South.

“Our enemies must not be mistaken about our patience and powers of self-restraint,” said Kim Sang-wuk, a North Korean general.

“We will completely destroy enemy strongholds with unforeseen and unimaginable strikes.”

Jong Sang-hwan, commander of a North Korean artillery unit, also talked about the magnitude of the joint drill of the North’s army, navy and air force.

“Proudly demonstrating the country’s defense industry’s power, artilleries were fired one after another and aircraft and vessels intensively fired at our enemies,” he said.

“It was a merciless, destructive offensive that no living thing, not even an ant, could survive.

“Our declarations are never empty words, and it was a demonstration that shows our mighty military power and the real taste of war.”


By Lee Young-jong, Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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