Kim Jong-un Touring Elite Military Units

      February 08, 2012 09:25

      New North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited seven military units over the past month, most of them of elite forces. A South Korean security official said Seoul is trying to find out why Kim is focusing on these elite units that have great strategic and symbolic significance.

      The state-run media reported Kim on Jan. 31 visited the 1,017th Air Force Unit, one of two MiG-29 fighter units in the North. The MiG-29 is the newest of the North's 800 fighter jets and was donated by the Soviet Union in the late 1980s.

      During his visit, Kim climbed into the cockpit of a MiG-29 standing on the tarmac and had his photo taken with the pilots.

      North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspects the 1,017th Air Force Unit, in this undated photo released by the [North] Korean Central News Agency on Jan. 30. /Yonhap

      Earlier, on Jan. 18, Kim visited the 169th Army Unit, an infiltration unit specializing in sending commandoes to South Korea.

      The 105th Seoul Ryu Kyong-su Guards Division, which he visited on New Year's Day, is remembered as the unit that entered Seoul three days after the Korean War broke out in 1950 and hoisted the North Korean flag at the top of the main government building in Seoul. While still the heir, Kim accompanied his father Kim Jong-il on another visit to the unit in January 2010, where he drove a tank by himself.

      Shin Beom-chul of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses said, "It seems Kim Jong-un is visiting elite units to demonstrate most effectively that his power base lies in the military."

      "All this seems to be his warning to the South not to get carried away just because he is a rookie leader," a researcher at another government-funded think tank said.

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