Kim turns his focus to discipline in the military

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Kim turns his focus to discipline in the military

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hosted a meeting with soldiers of the military security command as part of his efforts to tighten discipline of junior-level soldiers and military officials, the South Korean government has determined.

The Korean Central News Agency, the North’s official news outlet, reported yesterday that Kim attended the Second Meeting for the Korean People’s Army’s Defense Workers at the April 25 House of Culture.

The “defense workers” of the North Korean military are regarded as equivalent to the South’s Defense Security Command, which is in charge of tightening internal security in the military.

Kim orchestrated the meeting - the date of which has not been confirmed ?- the KCNA said, and delivered to officials his letter, which read: “Let’s develop and strengthen the army’s security to meet public expectation at a time of historic transition for the great task of the Juche [self-reliance] revolution.”

A series of high-ranking military officials also attended the meeting, including Choe Ryong-hae, head of the General Political Department of the North Korean People’s Army, who made the opening remarks.

Gen. Jo Kyong-chol called the meeting “a historic event” to consolidate all soldiers and “upgrade their capability and roles” for the regime.

The meeting with the military security team was the first one held in 20 years since October 1993, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Unification.

“The meeting is in line with Kim Jong-un’s continuous efforts to strengthen discipline in several major organizations,” the ministry said in a report yesterday. “It is part of efforts to tighten discipline in low-level military organizations.

“By directing the event by himself, Kim demonstrated his leadership as the regime’s top military commander.”

Slack military discipline has been a major problem in the North Korean military, particularly under Kim’s rule, according to an analysis released on Oct. 31 by the Institute for the National Security Strategy under the National Intelligence Service.

“The North Korean military’s lax discipline is serious,” the analysis said. “Their loyalty to Kim Jong-un has been weakened; the senior officials are abusing their powers ... Some soldiers have deserted, and others were punished for drinking on base, or releasing internal secrets [to the outside world].”


BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]
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