Kim Jong-il's Recent Activities Hint at Trouble Ahead

      April 25, 2011 11:50

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-il secretly visited a building where agencies engaged in military operations against South Korea are clustered and the General Bureau of Reconnaissance last month, a source said Sunday.

      The so-called Building No. 3 houses the United Front Department and the Workers Party's international affairs department. The reconnaissance bureau, an agency in charge of armed provocations against the South, is believed to have supervised the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan last year.

      "Kim Jong-il inspected the areas and encouraged agents" on his visits, a North Korean source said. "It seems highly likely that the regime will provoke again in case its charm offensive falls on deaf ears."

      At a meeting in Pyongyang Sunday, a day before the North Korean Army's 79th anniversary, Minister of the People's Armed Forces Kim Yong-chun said, "A tense situation is being created on the Korean Peninsula, where nobody knows when a war could break out." And the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland on Saturday warned that the North will "no longer insist on dialogue," if the South continues to ignore its overtures.

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-il inspects a steel complex in North Hamgyong Province in this undated photo released on Sunday by the [North] Korean Central News Agency. /KCNA-Yonhap

      The regime has apparently stepped up sea infiltration drills and artillery training in recent days even as it has been pushing for inter-Korean talks on various issues.

      According to the KCNA news agency on Saturday, Kim went on one of his "on-the-spot guidance" tours to the Rajin Shipyard in North Hamgyong Province, which is known to be making chiefly warships and submarines. This was the first time since Kim took power 1998 that the North Korean media has mentioned the shipyard.

      Meanwhile, Kim sang the praises of the "military-first” doctrine when he visited the Army Unit 264 in North Hamgyong Province, which supervises the regime's nuclear test site in Punggye-ri and its long-range missile launch pad in Musudan-ri.

      South Korean security officials note that Kim had frequently visited military units or certain areas immediately before the regime launched provocations of various kinds. Kim visited North Hwanghae Province about two weeks before the North sank the Cheonan in March last year, and South Hwanghae Province right before it shelled Yeonpyeong Island last November.

      He visited various locations in the Hamgyong provinces before the regime conducted its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 and test-launched long-range rockets. All this could mean that his latest visits are a prelude to another provocation.

      Kim Jong-il has recently been stressing self-reliance. The KCNA said he spoke about the topic Saturday during a visit to an iron and steel complex in North Hamgyong Province. Traditionally, the regime has emphasized self-reliance and tightened controls whenever it has had difficulty getting overseas aid.

      A South Korean security official said the flurry of activity could just be an attempt to pressure the South into resuming dialogue.

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