SEOUL, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un travels as he pleases, but his impromptu trips around the country are becoming a headache for his security detail.
A source in North Korea who spoke to Radio Free Asia on the condition of anonymity said Kim has a habit of changing travel plans at the last minute, including during official trips to different regions of North Korea.
“Talk is circulating among North Koreans that Kim’s unannounced visits to the countryside or to military units, and last-minute changes to his itinerary, are creating a real struggle among his security agents,” the source said on Thursday.
Another source told RFA Kim likes to take his executive limousine out for a drive, and has previously complained about heavy traffic after his spontaneous trips.
Kim’s complaint led to the enactment of a “traffic proclamation” in early 2015, the source said.
The North Korean leader’s autocratic rule of the country has created more uncertainty for many of North Korea’s aging elite than in previous regimes.
A source knowledgeable on the Kim leadership said Kim has purged more than 100 officials since assuming power in December 2011. On average, Kim has purged between 20-30 people per year.
Defections have increased among high-ranking officials and Kim has no respect for older cadres, using derogatory terms when addressing them during direct confrontations, according to a defector source.
Senior officials are under pressure to express fealty to Kim, and some are taking more initiative than others.
Yonhap reported Hwang Pyong So, North Korea’s No. 1 political officer for the Korean People’s Army, has prescribed a new song for the North Korean military to sing, titled, “Aye,” or “Yes, sir.”
Seoul’s Institute for National Security Strategy said in a report that the song was reflective of the ethos of political obedience under the Kim regime. Soldiers have been instructed to say “Aye” to all commands in a manner that “imitates the accuracy of a clock, and with pronounced vigor.”