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North Korea Ups Police Presence After Kim's Death

Dec 21, 2011
Originally published on December 21, 2011 10:35 am
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This is MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning, I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm Linda Wertheimer.

In North Korea, security forces are on heightened alert leading up to next week's funeral for Kim Jong Il. His son is his designated successor and the country's ruling elites want to ensure a smooth transition to power. That includes trying to enforce the population's obedience to the young and inexperienced leader.

NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports from Seoul, South Korea.

ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: South Korean intelligence officials told a parliamentary committee that North Korea has increased its police presence in major cities, and required military officials to pledge allegiance to heir apparent Kim Jong Un.

Kim Yun Tae is secretary general of the Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights, a Seoul-based civic group. He says that North Korean authorities are trying to prevent spontaneous public gatherings and citizens from fleeing over the border into China.

KIM YUN TAE: (Foreign language spoken)

KUHN: With Kim Jong Il dead and his son's position not yet consolidated, the North is trying to use the military to prevent an outflow of refugees, he says. It's especially restricting citizens who go into China to conduct trade.

China's leaders have moved quickly to recognize Kim Jong Un. Premier Wen Jiabao offered his condolences at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, as did President Hu Jintao yesterday. China has indicated it may issue an early invitation for the young Kim to pay a visit to his country's neighbor and chief ally.

Anthony Kuhn, NPR News, Seoul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.