(Photo) A police officer keeps a watchful eye at a checkpoint. Photographed in January 2011 in South Pyongan Province by Kim Dong-chul (ASIAPRESS).


In North Korea, security at military armouries, security agency facilities, and around statues of the Kim Jong-un family have recently been bolstered. The reason is said to be the increasing discontent caused by the worsening of people's lives due to the economic turmoil, which is leading to “disturbances” of the public order (Kang Ji-won).

In mid-June, our reporting partner in the northern region of the country told us that the number of personnel on duty at night had been increased at the Security Bureau (police) facilities and the Security Bureau (secret police) offices. In addition, police officers are now said to have their firearms loaded with live ammunition for patrol.

Security at armouries has also been strengthened. The People's Army and the militia group "Labour and Agriculture Red Guards", are said to have doubled the number of personnel standing guard and have also installed surveillance cameras.

The person who provided this information to our reporting partner was a police official, who explained the reason for the increased security: “There is a possibility that anti-party groups will intensify their activities as the economic situation and people's lives become more complex.”

◆Increased Security for Statues of the Kim Family

Residents were also instructed to increase the mobilization of night-time security around statues and portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il and billboards promoting the Kim family's achievements. The reporting partner explains as follows:

“I thought they would have us guard the statues because they were planning to hold some big event. Still, instead, [officials] came out to the people's group meeting and gave us instructions and explanations, saying, 'This is to prevent the actions of the enemies of the class in advance.’ They started nagging us to report any sluggishness as soon as we saw it.”

The Kim Jong-un regime seems to be wary of falling public sentiment and the disruption of social order that could result from the extreme deterioration of the economy. But how is the mood in the country?

“The economy is so bad that people are dying of starvation, so people's mental health is terrible. Whenever government officials are arrogant, people go to the government office to protest, crying and making a scene. There is also an increase in cases where people are drinking and getting into trouble, and the police are dispatched. Recently, the authorities seem to be taking more care not to provoke the residents, so they are less likely to search people's homes.”

※ASIAPRESS contacts its reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.