In early June, North Korea’s Military Security Command established a new research center to develop personal security equipment to protect leader Kim Jong Un during his inspection visits to military bases.

According to a Daily NK source in the North Korean military on Tuesday, the Military Security Command established the new center under its technology department on June 3. The military leadership tasked the center this year with researching and developing “modern hardware” to protect Kim during his tours of military installations.

The Military Security Command is composed of several departments, including general investigations, preliminary proceedings, inspections, incident processing, tracking, citizen registration, factory affairs, special institution affairs, overseas affairs, and technology. The technology department reportedly handles general development of bugging equipment and analyzing wiretapped material.

The technology department’s newly created research center, named the Personal Protection Equipment Research Center, is a separate institution from an identically named lab directly operating under the Ministry of State Security in Sonnae-dong, Mangyongdae District, Pyongyang. Military personnel apparently find the creation of a separate lab to research personal protection hardware under the Military Security Command to be a “rare” development. 

kim jong un fishery station
Kim Jong Un visited the August 25 Fishery Station in November 2019. / Image: Daily NK

As for why the Military Security Command created its own research center under the technology department, the source said the decision reflected “the urgency of the times, when a mistake in efforts to protect [Kim Jong Un] could lead to great and irreversible repercussions to the future of our revolution.”

The source explained that in the past, the Military Security Command relied largely on staking out roads and reinforcing firepower and manpower such as machine guns to protect Kim during his visits to military installations. With the establishment of the new center, however, military leaders plan from this year to adopt “new personal protection equipment and technology” to deal with “possible mischief by enemies or provocations by internal spies.”

In fact, the Military Security Command has reportedly tasked the center with its “first mission” of researching and developing “various types of cutting-edge personal protection equipment to be used in diverse situations” to protect Kim against potential provocations during his visits to military bases. Accordingly, the center plans to begin full-scale research from the third week of this month with the goal of developing cutting-edge personal protection gear within the year, said the source.

Meanwhile, the new research institution has reportedly started off with about 200 total personnel. These personnel include outstanding military technicians and researchers from the technology department’s wiretapping and surveillance offices and doctoral students with good backgrounds and skills from the likes of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, Kim Chaek University of Technology, and the Institute of Natural Science, as well as senior researchers from the Ministry of State Security’s own Personal Protection Equipment Research Center.

The source said that the Military Security Command has also issued an internal order to monitor the personnel of the new research center, including for them to be subject to “ideological reviews.”

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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Jeong Tae Joo is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. He focuses on North Korean military matters. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.