October 27, 2009 10:31
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's son and rumored heir apparent on Sept. 9 visited the Ninth North Korean Army Corps in Chongjin, North Hamgyong Province which is in charge of guarding the North Korea-China border. The visit to the corps' commander and political commissars was conducted in tight secrecy and came amid growing fears about discipline at the unit.
Kim Jong-un reportedly said, "The military unit which the general [Kim Jong-il] considers the most important is the Ninth Army Corps in charge of guarding the border."
An inside source in North Korea said the first frontline for North Korea is not the military demarcation line between the two Koreas but the North Korea-China border. The atmosphere there is so tense that the sound of North Korean soldiers shooting at defectors is heard almost every day.
In recent days, so many senior officers of the Ninth Corps have been involved in drug dealing and other money-making business that the National Defense Commission has decided to take direct charge of the corps. Foreign intelligence agencies are trying to woo Ninth Corps officers, sources said.
Rumor has it that some leading officers of North Korea's Sixth Army Corps attempted a mutiny in 1996 due to bribery by a foreign intelligence agency. Their plan was discovered in advance and all those involved were purged.
North Korean leaders, therefore, are not reportedly letting their guard down, in the belief that a similar incident could take place within the Ninth Corps. Kim Jong-un visited the Ninth Corps himself under these circumstances, the local sources added.
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com