N. Korea bolsters combat readiness of elite military unit

Sources report that training regimen of the Storm Corps has become more intense this year

elite military unit storm corps border landmine
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observing Storm Corps training in 2013. / Image: Rodong Shinmun

On Dec. 7, a special education session was reportedly provided to the “Storm Corps,” an elite military unit tasked with the infiltration of South Korea as well as sabotage operations during warfare. According to sources, the session contained anti-American propaganda claiming “US imperialists” were trying to eliminate North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. 

On Monday, North Korean military sources informed Daily NK about a solemn education session held on Saturday at the Storm Corps command facilities in Tokchon, South Pyongan Province. The event is said to have been supervised by the General Political Bureau’s Propaganda and Agitation Department. It might have been an attempt to instill a “war-time atmosphere” in the elite military unit. 

A source told Daily NK the session was based on U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent threats to order military strikes against North Korea. “The speaker condemned [the US] for ‘brazenly discussing regime change and precision strikes’, as well as for its ‘unacceptable and frenzied efforts to eliminate the leadership’”’ he said.

“The speaker did not forget to mention that ‘we need to actively resist the US imperialists murderous and villainous special forces, which have crept into the southern part of the Republic [South Korea],’” the source recalled.

This aligns with the official response of Pak Jong Chon, chief of the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), to Trump’s comments. He had warned that North Korea would retaliate against any US attack. 

PREPARING FOR THE WORST? 

North Korea’s Storm Corps unit was founded for the purpose of establishing a “second front” across the Korean Peninsula in case of a war. The elite military unit is also tasked with political subversion operations such as espionage and military sabotage.

The unit reportedly consists of approximately 20,000 members. Its soldiers are said to run an offensive program specifically designed for warfare. To prepare for their special operations, the unit’s soldiers receive intensive training in both educative and combative.

“[North Korea] is apparently intensifying class-conscious and anti-American education in the Storm Corps, which is known to conduct the most brutal special training to prepare for their missions,” a source said. “Because the North Korean-American talks are not progressing and disparaging comments were made about Kim Jong Un,” he said, the country’s leaders have “set out to ramp up education efforts in special ops units.”

Kim and Trump
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump in Panmunjom on June 30, 2019. The two leaders have not met face-to-face since. / Image: Rodong Sinmun

In addition, the elite military unit’s combat training has allegedly gotten more intense compared to last year: “Soldiers had to endure a 40 kilometer march in full gear immediately after a battalion’s routine inspection of emergency wartime supplies,” the source told Daily NK. “High-level officials closely monitored whether all soldiers could complete the exercise in time and without any dropouts.”

“Both the command and the entire battalion had to do the march this time whereas previously, fewer personnel had to participate in exercises,” the source added. The atmosphere during the exercise, he said, was thus “overflowing with tension.”

*Translated by Violet Kim and edited by Laura Geigenberger

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.