Kim and Jong-un get beefed up security

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Kim and Jong-un get beefed up security

North Korea has been stepping up security around its leader and his son, possibly to prepare for an uprising of citizens over its crippled economy or military attacks from the South, intelligence sources said yesterday.

According to intelligence gathered by South Korean and U.S. authorities, there have been recent moves to reinforce security for Kim Jong-il and his youngest son Jong-un with state-of-the-art antiterrorism technology and equipment.

The train that Kim Jong-il travels on, due to his dislike of airplanes, has been equipped with a “stealth net” that cloaks it from satellites. The train has always been the key way in which intelligence authorities track Kim’s movements out of the country, including his unexpected trip to China last summer.

“The net is actually a very thin, filmlike material that is produced from radar-absorbing material,” said South Korean intelligence sources.

Government officials have said that Kim Jong-il’s movements were usually detected by satellites.

North Korea has been worried about possible attacks on their most-guarded train since 2004, after a massive explosion ripped through the Ryongchon railway station just hours after Kim’s train had passed through on a return trip from China.

Secret underground passages for emergency escapes have also been dug beneath the headquarters of the North’s powerful Workers’ Party, where Kim Jong-un now holds a key position, according to the same officials. The passageways are reportedly wide enough for a car.

More heavy-duty equipment has been deployed to guard the leader. Intelligence authorities have observed armed tanks near Kim Jong-il’s vacation homes in Pyongyang and Gangwon Province.

Last year the bureaus in charge of security and patrol in North Korea also secretly purchased X-ray camera equipment as well as sensors for biochemical weapons and liquid explosives from Western countries, the sources said.

In addition, a special reconnaissance team has been formed to crack down on people critical of the planned succession of power to Kim Jong-un, the sources said.

The changes in security have been taking place since a failed currency renomination in late 2009, which cost many ordinary North Korean citizens their life savings.

It was highly unpopular, and as a result, the North Korean Ministry of People’s Security established a special strike force to deal with any disgruntled citizens, the sources said.

“We see these moves to be preparations against possible uprisings of people against the third-generation succession or protesting hardships related to the ailing economy,” one intelligence source in South Korea said. “The moves also seem to guard against possible strikes from the South in response to the North’s sinking of the Cheonan and shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.”

Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un’s movements are now more closely guarded than ever, the sources said, with travel plans classified and trips canceled at the last minute.

By Lee Young-jong []
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