North conducts emergency drill of top security

Joong Ang Daily
Lee Young-jong

Several security organs directly in charge of the safety of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il, conducted an emergency drill in Pyongyang on Friday, intelligence sources from South Korea and the United States said.

Military troops and tanks from the Pyongyang Defense Command were deployed rapidly while increased military communications were noted that day.

In addition, the Escort Bureau, in charge of protecting Mr. Kim, also had a busy day, the sources said.

The incident sparked a flurry of activity by the South’s intelligence community, as the increased military activity in the North’s capital did not fit the usual pattern of winter drills conducted by the North’s military.

The fact that security organs closely guarding the North’s leader’s safety were involved in the activities sparked momentary suspicion among some sources that a military coup might have occurred in the North.

By the end of the day, however, intelligence officials here concluded that the drill was to prepare for any unforeseen changes inside the power structure of Kim Jong-il’s inner circle.

A source familiar with the circumstances said, “We have confirmed that the activities pertained not to a real situation but were part of a drill to respond to a possible scenario.”

The source added that the situation did not require an emergency meeting by authorities in the South. Nevertheless, intelligence officials said that drills of this kind rarely happen in the North.

“This shows that the North sees the need to conduct emergency training as part of a broader effort to contain possible risks,” he said.


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