Behind the Shades of NKs Security Entourage

Choi Song Min  |  2014-10-08 02:47

North Koreas top delegation that visited the South last Saturday for the Incheon Asian Games closing ceremony landed with its own security entourage, in a move seen as an effort to parade the stature of its visiting members.

The security agents, believed to be forces from the countrys Escort Command, the unit tasked with guarding leader Kim Jong Eun and the Kim family, were of sturdy builds, wearing dark suits, sunglasses, and earpieces. Hwang Pyong So, one of the best known individuals in the North Korean regime, was trailed by a group of the agents, who appeared tense and ready to spring to action at the first sign of trouble.

It is the first time a high-level North Korean official has visited the South with a dedicated security detail. Also, with the exception of escort agents for the leader Kim Jong Eun, it is an unprecedented sight for a top Pyongyang official to be accompanied by agents wearing sunglasses.

In regards to this matter, North Korean defectors in the South said it is simply a show to put spotlight on how high of a ranking the visiting officials have. Defectors also agree that it is a calculated move to underscore the leaders Father-like care, by sending his own security agents to guard his top officials heading into the heart of enemy territory.

Hwang Pyong So, Director of the General Political Department of the Korean Peoples Army [KPA] doesnt have a separate escort agent, and instead has one assistant who also acts as the driver, a defector, who goes by the alias Jeon Geum Cheol and entered the South last year, told Daily NK. The fact that Hwang came with security agents in sunglasses is simply an act to emphasize the amount of authority he comes with.

The Escort Bureau is in charge of guarding Kim Jong Eun; top elites, such as the head of the Ministry of Armed Forces, and the Director of KPA General Political Department, are not served by the Command, and are instead guarded by soldiers handpicked from the Ministry of the Peoples Armed Forces, said Jeon. Theres a high chance that Kim Jong Eun sent his agents to give the delegation a higher status of appearance.

Another defector who formerly served in North Koreas military for 30 years said, The agents were on site drawing a lot of eyes, and I believe this shows they were there more for appearances sake than security. He added, It appears as though they got the idea from American and South Korean movies and TV dramas and imitated those looks.

North Koreans usually think of gangs or spies -- people with more negative images -- when they think of sunglasses, the defector added. If agents show up in a suit with sunglasses, they would likely poke fun at them, saying theyre being pretentious.

*Translated by Jiyeon Lee

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