Jittery North Forms Provincial ‘Riot Squads’

The North Korean authorities have apparently moved to strengthen their ability to respond to internal disorder by organizing riot squads within the People’s Safety Ministry, according to a Daily NK source.

The source from North Hamkyung Province told The Daily NK today, “Upon a decree from the General at the beginning of this month, the People’s Safety Ministry in each area began organizing its own riot squad of around 100 people and is working to track down any hints of unrest. The squads are focussing their patrols on areas of high traffic, and inspecting those who they deem suspicious.”

In issuing the orders, Kim Jong Il is said to have declared, “We must stay on high alert to the crisis unfolding on the international scene, and be totally ready to respond instantly to any event,” and added, “If an unwelcome situation happens anywhere in the nation, regardless of target or location, we must promptly and ruthlessly mop it up.”

The North Hamkyung Province arm of the People’s Safety Ministry apparently decided to draft ‘outstanding’ safety agents from the region into its riot squad. Some senior students at the two-year “North Hamkyung Province People’s Safety Ministry University of Politics” are also said to have been selected, presumably in the hope that they may be ideologically purer and less prone to corruption than some other agents.

However, the source added that the squads have not been achieving much, as there hasn’t been any noticeable disorder in North Korea to date.

“I’m not sure where they heard it, but people are talking amongst themselves about the riots in Egypt and Libya,” the source said, adding, “everybody is being cautious in what they say and do, so the riot squads have not had anything to do.”

Therefore, “Some members of the squad are being called upon to conduct investigations into regular anti-socialist acts such as drug trafficking,” the source also said.

Within North Korea, the source pointed out that the riot squads, contrary to the intention behind their creation, could rather serve to catalyse popular interest in the unfolding situation in the Middle East.

The source explained, “In North Korea, words such as ‘riot’, ‘suppress’, and ‘riot squad’ are in themselves rather ‘special’. Many people, who at first didn’t give much thought to yet another national inspections agency, were greatly surprised when they heard that the mission of the squads was to suppress riots.”