The North Korean authorities organized unusually intense civil defense training exercises last month, coinciding with both the U.S.-South Korea combined ‘Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG)’ exercises and the retroactively declared 52nd anniversary of the birth of the ‘revolutionary military-first leadership’ on the 25th.
Usually when South Korea hosts the annual UFG with the U.S., North Korea responds with anti-invasion rallies, mock blackouts and air defense training drills, then on the last two days of the designated period members of the Worker and Peasant Red Guard and Local Reserve Forces are required to go on exercises.
However, this year the whole undertaking was done in an atmosphere of even stricter compliance than normal, according to a local source. Symbolically, the source noted that Worker and Peasant Red Guards usually use pistols during such training events, but this time they received automatic rifles from arms stores.
Kim Jong Eun spent a great deal of time last month visiting military bases, and on more than one occasion ordered units to be ready to counter any hint of aggressive intent on the part of the enemy. Thus, it is no surprise that the authorities moved to step up training and combat readiness education.
The source told Daily NK, “The ‘center’ (presumed to be the National Defense Commission and/or Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces) handed down an order, ‘On preparing for the emergency mobilization of the entire military and all people’. In accordance, even in the provinces, the people were mobilized in a state of high tension for evacuation, anti-aircraft and live fire training exercises.”
“The training was conducted in a warlike situation, with soldiers living in tunnels and the Local Reserve Forces and Worker and Peasant Red Guard responding to emergency calls to arms, live fire maneuvers and forced marches,” he went on.
Analyzing the reason for the harsher than normal training regimen, the source also noted, “It is the first drill since the emergence of Kim Jong Eun so the atmosphere is very different,” adding, “To straighten out people’s uncooperative attitude to all this, they closely monitored participation.”
“Every time there is a public meeting they have us shouting slogans such as ‘Let’s defend to the end the core of the revolution, the head of the Mt. Baekdu bloodline, comrade Kim Jong Eun!’ and ‘Let’s give our lives to protect the strong state that we preserved with our blood!’” he also pointed out.