North Korea

North Korean police told to improve security nationwide to protect leader Kim Jong Un


The orders include creating a security network for better surveillance of the people.

North Korean police told to improve security nationwide to protect leader Kim Jong Un

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un attends the 75th Founding Anniversaries of Mangyongdae and Kang Pan Sok Revolutionary Schools Marked with Grand Ceremony, in in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released on Oct. 12, 2022 by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

North Korean police are working to enhance security nationwide to ensure the safety of leader Kim Jong Un amid increased tensions on the Korean peninsula, sources in the country told Radio Free Asia.

In the past two months, North Korea returned to its brinkmanship strategy of repeated provocations by introducing a law that allows for preemptive nuclear strikes, test launching a series of missiles, including one that flew over Japan, and Pyongyang is widely believed to be preparing for another nuclear test, which would be its first since 2017.

Though state media waxes poetic about the necessity of such actions to deal with threats from abroad, orders from the top say that local authorities need to get their houses in order and eliminate all potential threats to the leadership from within, a judicial source in the northeastern province of North Hamgyong told RFA’s Korean Service on Oct. 17 on condition of anonymity for security reasons.

“On October 12, the Ministry of Social Security sent down a project agenda for protecting the safety of the Chief of the Revolution,” he said, using an honorific to describe Kim Jong Un. “This is in response to the recent increase in political tensions upsetting social stability.

“Police were ordered to find and eliminate factors that could be maneuvered by impure hostiles among the residents … in their jurisdiction within this month,” said the source. Impure hostiles are people who waver in their loyalty, who might influence others to do the same.

The Ministry of Social Security ordered that the police and social safety agencies create a tight surveillance network to identify problematic people and keep tabs on them, the source said.

“They ordered that the police must remove all subjects who have illegally entered their jurisdiction and return them to their place of origin as soon as possible … and prevent problematic subjects in their jurisdiction from leaving to other areas,”  he said.

In North Korea, people cannot freely move about the country and settle where they please without permission. Once they are in a new area they must also register with the local authorities. Living outside of the area one is registered is technically illegal.  

“Search and patrol checks for problematic subjects should be conducted at least once each day in cooperation with security forces, special agencies, and the Worker-Peasant Red Guards,” he said. The Worker-Peasant Red Guards are a paramilitary militia, and the largest civil defense force in the country.

In addition to keeping tabs on people, police must check the performance of their personnel and review the status of their security-related equipment, a judicial source in the northwestern province of North Pyongan told RFA on condition of anonymity to speak freely.

“From Nov. 1, encrypted terms and documents must be used in the process of implementing and directing escort projects,” he said, referring to times important leaders require a security detail when visiting or moving through an area.

“[Police] must also make trips to the railways and roads by the end of this month to assess risk factors and reflect on security plans for escort projects. Authorities instructed the ministries to build an operation plan and mobilize personnel at a random time for a No. 1 escort operation drill before the 20th,” he said. No. 1 events are those that involve Kim Jong Un. 

While implementing the orders, police are also supposed to take extra precaution to prevent the spread of rumors.

“They must thoroughly control and report on the trends and public sentiments of the residents under the pretext of recent political tensions,” he said.

“But these days, the officials are complaining of fatigue as they work late into the night to deal with the huge pile of orders coming from the top,” the second source said. “Some of the officials complain that the central party’s orders ignore the reality of provincial areas and they keep sending more and more.”  

Translated by Claire Shinyoung Oh Lee and Leejin J. Chung. Written in English by Eugene Whong. 

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