by WorldTribune Staff, October 29, 2017
Mass evacuation and blackout drills are being conducted throughout North Korea amid heightened tensions, a report said.
NK News reported on Oct. 28 that the drills have taken place in several cities and towns, particularly along the east coast, but not in the capital city, Pyongyang.
Some observers say the rare drills are a sign the Kim Jong-Un regime is feeling the gravity of the situation on the Korean Peninsula while other analysts said it was Pyongyang merely attempting to create the perception that it cares about its people.
“I have never heard of this type of training exercises before in North Korea, but am not surprised,” Chun In-Bum, a recently retired South Korean three star lieutenant general, told NK News. “They must realize how serious the situation is.”
But Christopher Green, a PhD candidate at University of Leiden, Germany, argued that it was unclear “whether genuine security concerns are driving this, or the wish to portray the image of a government that has concerns over security.”
News of the drills broke on the day U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was on a visit to Seoul to meet his counterpart, South Korea Defense Minister Song Young-Moo.
“North Korea has accelerated the threat that it poses to its neighbors and the world through its illegal and unnecessary missile and weapons programs,” Mattis said, adding that U.S.-South Korean military and diplomatic collaboration had taken on “a new urgency.”
Mattis also warned that the U.S. would never accept a nuclear North Korea and that Kim Jong-Un was overmatched by American firepower.
Analysts believe North Korea has a strong technical motivation to attempt at least one more intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, likely on a first-ever long-distance trajectory. Recent comments from the Trump administration suggest such a test would result in major friction between the two countries.
North Korea has also said it is considering an atmospheric nuclear test in the Pacific ocean, a move which NK News reported would be viewed by some in the U.S. government as an “attack on the homeland.”
Defectors have spoken of frequent air raid drills during times of tension in North Korea but not in recent years.
In 1994, during a confrontation with Washington over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, daily air raid drills reportedly took place.
In 2013, when relations with South Korea were tense, the North Korean government requested that vehicles in Pyongyang cover their roofs with camouflage netting.
“In this day and age of precision bombing and all weather capabilities, (such) North Korean civil exercises either come from ignorance of modern war or just a propaganda campaign to frightening their own people and induce obedience,” Chun said.