Special unit to protect North's leadership

The Korean People's Army special forces were unveiled at a military parade to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founder last Saturday.
The Korean People's Army special forces were unveiled at a military parade to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founder last Saturday.REUTERS

SEOUL • North Korea has created new special operation forces in a bid to prevent operations to take out the North's leadership by South Korea or the United States, said analysts.

The Korean People's Army (KPA) special forces were unveiled at a military parade last Saturday to mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of the country's founder Kim Il Sung, reported South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

Officers from the new special forces had camouflage cream on their faces and black sunglasses. They marched in formation and carried a new type of rifle equipped with grenade launchers and donned helmets with night-vision goggles.

On North Korea's state-run TV station, the new forces came up for mention after the navy, the air force and strategic forces at the parade.

"Once Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un issues an order, they will charge with resolve to thrust a sword through the enemy's heart like lightning over Mount Paektu," Yonhap quoted an announcer of the TV broadcaster as saying, in reference to the highest peak on the Korean peninsula.

At the annual joint military drills by the US and South Korea this year, drills to remove the North's leadership in the event of war were apparently carried out for the first time, Yonhap reported.

The new special forces are believed to be led by Colonel-General Kim Yong Bok, a former military leader of the KPA Unit 11.

Meanwhile, Mr Ri Pyong Chol, a key party official in charge of North Korea's development of strategic weapons, has assumed the title of an army general, photos carried by the main newspaper Rodong Sinmun showed, said Yonhap.

He had accompanied Mr Kim Jong Un at the launch of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile in February, and a high-thrust rocket engine test last month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2017, with the headline 'Special unit to protect North's leadership'. Print Edition | Subscribe