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January 5, 2005
North Korean Civil Defense Plans: Protect The Portraits!

North Korea issued civil-defense guidelines to its people in anticipation of attack by the United States, with preparations ranging from the mundane to the ridiculous:

North Korea has ordered its people to be ready for a protracted war against the United States, issuing guidelines on evacuating to underground bunkers with weapons, food and portraits of leader Kim Jong Il. ...

The manual urged the military to build restaurants, wells, restrooms and air purifiers in underground bunkers where government offices and military units will move in if war breaks out.

When North Koreans evacuate to underground facilities, they should make sure that they take the portraits, plaster busts and bronze statues of Kim and his parents so that they can "protect" them in a special room.

Kim signed the order himself as the chairman of the Central Military Committee, a position that had not been publicly associated with anyone after the death of Kim's father. It also appears to end speculation on Kim's status after a series of contradictory impressions over the past few months, with reports of Kim's pictures being removed from public places. Or it could just as easily be a reaction to pressure coming from within the North Korean military to unseat Kim, which would explain all of the above.

How seriously should people take this order? It's the first time that any such document has been publicly released by the notoriously clandestine North Koreans, which means that they intend it for political effect. An edict creating special protective rooms in underground shelters for pictures of Kim sounds like a satire in and of itself, although it will certainly stir the domestic population into a temporary unity behind Kim. Kim's problem will occur when the threatened US invasion never materializes, cutting his credibility even further with his people.

If Kim needs this piece of hysterical propaganda in order to get his restful population into compliance, his regime may well be in danger of crumbling from its own internal rot. The military would be the most likely place for a palace coup to start, and Kim's sudden and public announcement of his command appears to be some sort of effort to bring them to heel.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 5, 2005 7:15 AM

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What is it with dicators and their portraits? Are they so narcissistic that they must see themselves everywhere? [Read More]

Tracked on January 5, 2005 1:46 PM

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