Four days after Kim Jong Eun was cited in the North Korean media as saying that he would order “great national action” in response to the most recent UN Security Council resolution sanctioning the country, the authorities have moved the military to a state of increased combat readiness.
An inside source from North Hamkyung Province revealed news of the step on the 30th, saying, “The status change to preparation for combat mobilization was declared today at midnight.” A day earlier on the 29th, the authorities issued an emergency order instructing Party cadres to stay at their desks, he added.
It is Kim’s role as First Chairman of the National Defense Commission, North Korea’s highest military organ, to declare the various readiness conditions that govern the status of regular and reserve forces (in order of seriousness): alert, combat alert, preparation for combat mobilization, combat mobilization, quasi-state of war and state of war.
“After it was announced on the evening of the 29th that a state of emergency had been declared, they proclaimed the readiness status at midnight exactly,” the source went on. “Worker and Peasant Red Guards were issued with real guns rather than replicas, and the security services went out onto the streets to maintain order.”
It is impossible to tell at this stage whether the authorities will proceed to raise the readiness level any further. However, the current status is declared relatively frequently, so the leadership may feel compelled to do so if their goal is to generate social cohesion and instill fear in the wider population.