Risk of internal instability at the heart of 'war preparedness directive'

Kang Mi Jin  |  2016-03-23 11:38
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After vowing to take resolute countermeasures in response to international sanctions on March 4, Pyongyang is said to have ordered its State Security Department, Ministry of Peoples Security, and other governing bodies to make all necessary preparations for war, Daily NK has learned. 

Recently, the state and peoples security offices [SSD and MPS, respectively] received orders to be ready for war at any time, a source from Ryanggang Province said on Sunday. An official from the MPS who shared this information said it appears Kim Jong Un is determined to go to war under any circumstances. 

Sources in North and South Hamgyong Provinces reported the existence of the same mandate in those regions. 

Staff from the MPS have commented on the fact that the Marshal [Kim Jong Un] toured military sites in combat uniform, noting that it appears to be an indication of the political climate having shifted, and to emphasize that people should be in 'combat mode' when going about their daily lives. This general atmosphere can be noticed at state and peoples security offices, which have taken the unusual step of dispatching agents to some sites for daily briefing purposes. 

MPS and reserve units in each region are busy inspecting their weapons storage, he said. Its also pretty clear that police officers are under pressure because theyre now on rotation for 24-hour duty. 

According to the source, some agents are even saying they would rather see war break out, if stronger sanctions mean the North would have to go through another famine like it did in the 1990s. 

The state is also emphasizing that the general public, and not just security agents, should maintain a combat lifestyle, he said, adding that people are not at all pleased and are commenting that, One can only fight on a full stomach, while questioning what the state will do if economic sanctions indeed cause a food shortage. 

Analyses on these latest developments suggest that although Pyongyang has been ordering agencies to prepare for war and emphasizing that people should fight against sanctions, this response is due to concern that external pressure from the international community will cause internal instability. 

Ordering agencies to gear up for war is a hint that the state is trying to keep a tight lid on even the smallest signs of discontent within the public, the source explained. It likely sought to declare a quasi-state of war to counter possible disturbances, but that would necessitate recalling all the storm-troopers involved in the 70-day battle for the Party Congress from their work assignments, so this is probably the best it could come up with. 

*Translated by Jiyeon Lee
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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