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[Op-Ed] Nowhere to Hide for Kim Jong Il?

Posted January. 09, 2010 07:02,   


A Chinese-language magazine published in Canada has carried in this month’s edition a photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s office and vicinity. In photos taken in the 1980s, his office had equipment that received six foreign broadcast channels. In the latest photo, eleven satellite antennas were shown, including those for receiving South Korean broadcasts. This suggests that Kim is fully aware of what is going on in South Korea and other parts of the world. Accordingly, he should then realize how his country’s isolation and hereditary tyranny are worlds apart from the rest of the globe.

Located north of Pyongyang Station, the building in the photo is not where Kim lives. He reportedly uses several residences. Those not frequented by him are made to look as if he lives there, but where he does reside is places unimaginable as living quarters. He uses underground passages so that no satellite can take photos of him. Intelligence data suggests that he uses doubles for public activities.

An important job for South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies is to track his movements. An analysis of the places he visited according to North Korea’s state-control media over the past 10 years has shown the places he frequents and his daily, weekly and yearly activities. Accounts by his former bodyguards who defected to South Korea are also helping intelligence officials get a grasp of his secret movements. In addition, photos gathered by U.S. spy satellites also suggest places where he might hide in case of emergency. One rumor has it that South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies are just 30 minutes behind his movements. With escalated tension over North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, the time difference could have been cut further.

Given his all-out effort to develop nuclear weapons despite the international backlash, what the dictator fears the most is cruise missiles. He seems particularly afraid of them because he cannot know when and where they can be fired at him. A U.S. Tomahawk cruise missile can receive three-dimensional information and penetrate target buildings. When it hits a bulletproof window, a fuse delays the detonation of the warhead. The missile breaks through the window with its kinetic energy and the warhead explodes inside the building. Seen from above, Kim has no place to hide.

Editorial Writer Lee Jeong-hoon (hoon@donga.com)