North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Added Security Measures for the Leadership?

A member of the Guard Command (R) escorts an overenthusiastic factory manager away from Kim Chong-il (and moving machine parts) during a 2010 visit

After Kim Il-song died in 1994, Kim Chong-il initiated a shake-up in the DPRK’s protective service for the leadership, the Guard Command.  He dismissed dozens of Guard Command officers, expanded his own personal security escort by 200 members and called it the 2.16 Unit.  These changes were a response to several coup attempts in the late 1980’s and 1990’s as his accession drew near.  JoongAng Ilbo reports that the regime is once again reinforcing the center’s security.  Christine Kim writes:

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.

An affiliate of 38 North