Kim Jong-un Beefs Up Security Amid Fear of Unrest

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has apparently stationed around 100 armored vehicles at his house, summer home and other facilities for fear of a military coup or uprising, sources say.

Kim "is extremely nervous about the possibility of an emergency developing inside North Korea," claimed an informed source.

According to the source, Kim recently ordered officials to "place top priority" on his personal security and to keep his itinerary top secret. As a result, the venues of events he attends are swarming with guards carrying automatic rifles and hand grenades, while his personal plainclothes bodyguards can also be spotted carrying long, black bags apparently containing heavy weapons.

Security agents cordon off areas surrounding events attended by Kim and confiscate watches and cigarettes from pedestrians. Mobile phone signals are also jammed.

On July 26, all mobile phone signals in downtown Pyongyang were jammed from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. while Kim attended a performance marking the 59th anniversary of the armistice in the 1950-53 Korean War.

The security service, which runs its own university, established a three to six-month course to train surveillance experts.

"Kim Jong-un desperately needs to bolster his personal security detail due to mounting opposition to his efforts to rein in the military," said one diplomatic source.

North Korea continues to import riot-control equipment from China, including helmets, bulletproof vests, road blocks and tear gas, for fear of public unrest.

North Korea watchers say there is growing public discontent with the young leader. There has apparently been a surge in disobedience and a lack of discipline in the military. Sources say military officers grumble at the appointment of Choe Ryong-hae as director of the People's Army General Political Bureau, a top military position, despite the fact that he has no military experience.

"Choe appointed members from the Socialist Youth League, where he comes from, to key military posts and has assumed control of various businesses run by the military, losing trust and loyalty among the troops," the source said.

The abrupt sacking of former Army chief Ri Yong-ho in July has also damaged morale in the military, which was allowed to metastasize into a state within the state under former leader Kim Jong-il's "military-first" doctrine.

Veteran officials in the North's Workers Party are also unhappy with the young leader's confusing reshuffles and impulsive orders. They apparently complain secretly that the inexperienced leader is "running wild."

Kim's efforts since June to improve the North's economy floundered on fierce opposition from party hardliners afraid of losing their grip on power. High-ranking party officials ignore Kim's orders and write them off as unrealistic, and are instead busy watching their backs or looking for ways to make money, the source said.

"Even Kim Jong-un as the ruler of the notorious North Korean regime cannot unleash an unrestrained reign of terror," said one intelligence official here. "He probably chose to launch a rocket now to gain some credibility."

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 06, 2012 11:41 KST