June 16, 2017 09:39
The National Intelligence Service said Thursday that a North Korean drone that crashed in South Korea took 551 photos of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense battery in the southwest as well as military bases in Gangwon Province.
Lee Cheol-woo, the head of the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee, quoted NIS chief Suh Hoon as telling lawmakers in a closed-door meeting that the drone was "a mix of Japanese, Chinese and American" components. "An accurate assessment will be available once computer analysis has been completed," Lee added.
The NIS also said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is making fewer and fewer public appearances. Kim had made 51 public appearances this year as of Thursday, down from 244 in 2013 and 148 last year. The NIS concluded that this means he has consolidated his grip on power.
But it added that Kim seems more security-conscious given that he rarely appeared in public during this year's South Korea-U.S. military drills in March, which practiced so-called "decapitation operations" against the North Korean regime. He made two public appearances during that time compared to eight last year.
North Korea is also fixated on gathering intelligence on the decapitation operations, according to the NIS. Regarding the North's rapid missile development, the NIS said the regime is focused on developing a "mid-stage" missile as part of its intercontinental ballistic missile program.
In the case of the KN-17, the maximum range is 5,000 km, which is the longest so far, using a new 80-ton, liquid-powered engine. Kim appears to have watched all of the North's missile launches so far this year. There were nine test launches, and two of them failed.
The North's refusal to accept visits from South Korean civic groups as a prelude to better relations appears to be part of a war of nerves that will not likely end soon, the NIS said.
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