N.Korea in Frantic Preparation for 2012 Celebrations

      October 19, 2011 13:04

      This photo taken on Sept. 17 shows a building site of high-rise apartments in Pyongyang's Mansudae District. /[North] Korean Central News Agency

      Several North Korean spies have been arrested for plotting to assassinate South Koreans involved in anti-North Korean campaigns, National Intelligence Service Director Won Sei-hoon told a National Assembly audit Tuesday.

      Hwang Jin-ha, a Grand National Party lawmaker and member of the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee, quoted Won as adding in the closed-door session that security for the potential victims has been increased.

      Won also revealed that in North Korean military exercises in June, the ground forces focused on simulating attacks on South Korea, and the navy concentrated on sea infiltration, while the Air Force trained to conquer frontline islands in the northwest of South Korea using fighter jets and helicopters.

      The spy chief warned of a "high risk" that construction workers cut corners in a mega project to build 3,000 high-rise apartments in Pyongyang's Mansudae District in celebration of regime founder Kim Il-sung's 100th birthday next year. "We are told that they built 35 stories in just two months, leaving no time for the concrete to cure," Hwang quoted Won as saying.

      He said preparations for the anniversary next year, when North Korea has vowed to become "a powerful and prosperous nation," are in full swing despite the regime's dire financial straits. The North has formed a committee to prepare a lavish ceremony and a massive "global" conference on the regime's Juche or self-sufficiency ideology on April 15, 2012, the day of the founder's birthday. He said the personality cult surrounding current leader Kim Jong-il is also intensifying ahead of his 70th birthday on Feb. 16, 2012.

      The NIS said the North Korean regime is working hard to eliminate any elements that would pose threat to the third-generation power succession to Kim's son Jong-un, with patrols intensifying especially in the cities and border areas.

      Meanwhile, Hwang said North Korean defectors frequently suffer tooth decay, hepatitis, tuberculosis -- all associated with poverty and malnutrition -- and sexually transmitted diseases. Women in the border areas "are engaged in prostitution through human trafficking or by choice to make money, and because there is no hygiene supervision, STDs are spreading," he added.

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