A shooting took place on Feb. 18 in South Hamgyong Province, not far from where North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attended the groundbreaking of the Yonpo Greenhouse Farm the same day.
According to a Daily NK source in the province yesterday, the provincial party committee convened extended meetings of its military committee on Feb. 16 and Feb. 18.
On Feb. 16, the committee met to put the entire province under lockdown for two days — Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 — ahead of Kim’s appearance in Hamju County’s Yonpo district. On Feb. 18, the committee discussed measures to deal with the shooting.
The source said the provincial party convened an emergency enlarged meeting of the military committee on the evening of Feb. 16 after receiving notification that Kim was coming. He said the meeting discussed locking down the province from midnight of Feb. 17 to midnight of Feb. 18, putting it under “special guard” status.
In response, the authorities shut down access to all roads into the province, and even shut down landline and mobile communications in the province.
The source said “on-the-spot guidance” visits by Kim are usually accompanied by localized lockdowns of a specific city or county. He said shutting down an entire province is highly unusual.
The provincial party of South Hamgyong Province put the province on high alert ahead of Kim’s attendance of the groundbreaking ceremony. Despite this, on the day of the ceremony (Feb. 18), there was a shooting in an army security platoon at Sinsang Station in Chongpyong County, right next door to Hamju County.
The source said the platoon guarding Sinsang Station in the Sinsang Labor District was carrying live ammunition as it was on special guard duty. This is when the deputy commander of the guard post allegedly emptied an entire magazine into the guard post commander, killing him. The provincial party received a report of the incident immediately, convening another enlarged meeting of the military committee that evening.
During the four hour meeting, Ri Chong Nam — the chief secretary of the provincial party — sharply criticized the “large-scale incident” that took place while the province was on special guard duty to protect the event attended by Kim. He reportedly took to task the political cadres of military units stationed in the province who were in attendance.
He further rebuked the cadres for failing to properly manage their units and ascertain the “tendencies” of their soldiers, failures that led to an incident that could have easily compromised the safety of the “revolutionary leadership.”
The next morning, Ri sent a self-criticism letter — written in his own handwriting — from the military committee’s members along with an incident report to the Central Committee. Ri is reportedly close to Kim, and once served as deputy director of the Central Committee’s Organization and Guidance Department. He was named the province’s chief secretary after previous secretary Kim Song Il was blamed for the response to a destructive typhoon in 2020 and sacked.
According to the source, the self-criticism letter said the military committee took collective responsibility for the failures that took place during the ceremony period, would accept any punishment given, and were even prepared to give up their party membership. It also said the members would “give their lives” to ensure that the Yonpo Greenhouse Farm is completed by Oct. 10.
North Korea’s Central Committee reportedly met on Feb. 20. It praised the military committee of South Hamgyong Province for convening right away to report the incident, reaffirming its faith in the local party and calling on it to repay that faith with results.
Ultimately, the commander of the security department of the Seventh Corps, as well as the head of the department’s political division, were relieved and demoted. The two soldiers are reportedly being sent to a farm run by the Seventh Corps in Yonggwang County.
The Seventh Corps is stationed in South Hamgyong Province.
Meanwhile, the alleged shooter in the incident has been placed under arrest. The source said he likely faces a death sentence for the crime of “causing chaos during the period of an event attended by the Supreme Leader.”
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