Kim put forces on combat alert: defector group

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Kim put forces on combat alert: defector group

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il ordered the country’s armed forces on combat alert after South Korea blamed the regime for the torpedo attack against a Navy ship, a defectors group in Seoul said yesterday.

North Korea Intellectual Solidarity, an academic organization formed by scholars who have defected from their communist homeland, said the alert was issued Thursday evening, hours after an international team of investigators announced their determination of the cause of the South Korean warship Cheonan’s sinking.

According to the group, Gen. O Kuk-Ryol, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, announced the statement at 7 p.m. Thursday in a live broadcast.

“The United States and South Korea are linking North Korea to the Cheonan’s sinking and showing the madness to retaliate against us,” O was quoted by an informant in North Korea, the group said.

Yesterday, the North’s military accused the South’s Navy of trespassing in its waters and issued a new threat of military response.

In the broadcast Thursday, O said the South’s accusation was a fabrication, and that Kim had issued an alert order to the nation’s armed forces including the Red Youth Guard, which comprises teenage students.

“We do not want a war, but if South Korea attacks us in assistance of the United States and Japan, it is National Defense Commission Chairman Kim’s order to use it as an opportunity to accomplish Korean unification, which we fell short of during the Korean War,” O was quoted as saying.

According to the group’s senior member, Park Geon-ha, the order was issued through a cable radio network, which airs announcements through speakers installed at homes. “It is used to provide information that the North Korean government only wants its people to know, not outsiders,” Park said. “It is to unite North Koreans by alarming them about tensions.”

Park also pointed out that the broadcast was not directly issued by Kim, and speculated that the order was more of a domestic rallying attempt than a serious military move.

In another report, the group said massive rallies were organized by North Korean authorities and participants were ordered to wear military uniforms. The gatherings nationwide were titled “Revenge for revenge, war for war,” an informant said.

The group also said that guards at the China border have been upgraded to combat alert since Sunday. It is the first time this year that the North has raised the alert, a North Korean border guard was quoted as saying, adding that no such measure was taken last year.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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