North Korea declares ‘quasi-war status’ sans mobilization or training

Although North Korea’s sixth nuclear test came as a sudden shock to the international community, residents of the isolated nation were said to have been anticipating the possibility of a major provocation as the authorities had abruptly declared a ‘quasi-war status’ without conducting any specific training for the residents.
“People were confused because even though the Supreme Commander (Kim Jong Un) declared a ‘quasi-war status’ early last week, no specific training took place. So some residents assumed that a major provocation was at hand,” a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on September 2.
According to the source, “quasi-war status” is one step lower than a “state of war,” but is still a relatively high level security measure. Quasi-war status requires every institution in North Korea, including from the Party, military, and government to enter emergency status and prepare for war, but no specific actions were taken following the most recent announcement.
Similarly, ordinary residents and the reserve forces including the Worker and Peasant Red Guards, who are normally tasked with the responsibility of producing war materials, were not mobilized. They were also not required to live in shelters in each city and county during the period, as would usually be the case.
“Even though residents were instructed to ‘stay where they are and be alert at all times’ at the inminban (neighborhood watch unit) meetings after the quasi-war status was declared, nothing unusual occurred,” the source said.
The declaration can be interpreted as a measure to strengthen military alertness in response to the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercises conducted between South Korea and the US, and an attempt to stymie agitation of the population prior to the nuclear test.
“Kim Jong Un may be thinking that he sufficiently demonstrated North Korea’s strength to the US and international society following the successful hydrogen bomb test. Therefore, it’s likely that he will focus on the economy, including visits to factories in order to appeal to the public in the near future,” a source in North Hamgyong Province said on September 3.

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