The Supreme Guard Command recently intensified control over a road used exclusively by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Samjiyon, Ryanggang Province, and local rumors suggest that Kim recently left the area after staying in a local villa, Daily NK has learned.

“From May 9, the Supreme Guard Command suddenly intensified its control over an exclusive road used by the leader [1호 도로] heading up to the villa over a period of 10 days,” a Ryanggang Province-based source told Daily NK yesterday.

“Normally, the road used exclusively by Kim is patrolled once a day by a two-man team, but during [those 10 days] a mobile sentry post was set up around 50 meters from the entrance to the road and a single armed guard stood there who rotated out every two hours,” he added.

INTENSIFYING CONTROL

The source told Daily NK that the Supreme Guard Command officials who were standing guard had “wartime” gear on, including metal helmets along with camouflage.

North Koreans typically flood into Samjiyon and nearby Pochon, Paekam and Samsu countries along with Hyesan during the month of May to pick various medicinal plants to sell into China, according to the source.

Typically, restrictions on movement of locals near Kim’s exclusive road are so lax that they have been able to cut across it to make their way to a nearby mountain.

“People had been able to quietly move through the area to get to the [nearby] mountain – even though the area is restricted. That’s because officers with the Supreme Guard Command would just conduct one patrol per day [in the area],” the source said.

“The sudden appearance of a temporary sentry post and intensified control over movement in the area created a situation where no one was avoid to loiter in the area for more than a minute,” he added.

Similar “special developments” were witnessed when Kim last conducted an on-the-spot inspection in Samjiyon, the source said. When he last visited the area, officials from the local municipal party committee, Ministry of Public Safety and Ministry of State Security were mobilized to clean up the railways, train stations and roads and then had to provide security for the leader’s visit.

This time around, however, the Supreme Guard Command focused solely on increasing security of Kim’s exclusive road to the villa.

RUMORS FLY

“There is a rumor that seems to have originated from the family of a high-level Military Security Command official based in Ryanggang Province that the Supreme Leader [Kim Jong Un] stayed at the villa for 10 days in secret, although it’s not clear why,” the source said.

Many people in the area reportedly believe that Kim did indeed stay in the villa given recent developments surrounding the Supreme Guard Command and other “stories” floating around.

“People are saying that there are rumors of cadres who have heard that after the Samjiyon villa was constructed various items were brought in and spring cleaning has finished. This, they say, makes it possible that he really did come to the villa for a rest,” the source said.

“Others are saying that they’ve heard rumors from [North Korean] smugglers that Chinese traders are saying that [Kim Jong Un] is sick and that he may have visited Samjiyon because of the clean air and beautiful scenery.”

The Supreme Guard Command reportedly took down the mobile sentry post during the afternoon of May 19 and patrols have returned to normal. Locals have also returned to cutting across Kim’s exclusive road to pick medicinal plants.

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Ha Yoon Ah is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.