'Bomb rocks North Korean capital' in possible Kim Jong-un assassination attempt after paranoid despot beefs up security | The Sun

PYONGYANG has been rocked by a bomb attack, sources within the country revealed, after Kim Jong-un beefed up his security with a phalanx of briefcase-wielding bodyguards.

The explosion in the North Korean capital was disclosed to The Dong-a Ilbo, a newspaper in South Korea, by a source citing testimony from local residents.

The source said it happened within the past two months and that they could not rule out the possibility that it targeted a “high-ranking” regime figure.

And though the blast could have been accidental, or part of a heist, the report said Kim Jong-un was “feeling uneasy about his safety”.

It said he had imported new explosive detection equipment, and had added briefcase-wielding guards to his security team.

Michael Madden, a leading expert on the North Korean elite, said: “There has certainly been a tightening of security measures around Kim Jong-un.”


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The briefcases were, he added, a defence against assassins.

He said: “These are known as ballistic bags or ballistic briefcases.  

“They are made of carbon fibre. In addition to being bulletproof, they also protect against tasers and other electronic-based ordnance.

“If the spotters radio the guards about suspicious activity or if a shot is fired , they can raise the bags to protect Kim Jong-un.

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“These bags also unfold – there is either velcro or a clasp which can be undone, which turns the bags into a kind of fabric shield.

“So if someone takes a shot at Kim they would open these bags, surround and then cover him until he can be tossed into a car.”

He noted that Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader’s father and predecessor, had equipped his guards with ballistic briefcases too.

In his case, however, they served a dual purpose – carrying medical equipment, including a portable defibrillator, for the ailing tyrant.

Mr Madden said: “This begs the question: do these briefcases contain similar measures for Kim Jong-un? Especially when we consider his immediate bodyguards are carrying them around.”

The analyst highlighted two occasions in April when Kim’s bodyguards carried the cases – a visit to the North Korean space agency, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Pyongyang.

Around that time, the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida had survived an assassination attempt when an explosive was thrown at him during a campaign visit.

It came less than a year after Kishida's predecessor, Shinzo Abe, was gunned down.

Mr Madden, a fellow of the Stimson Center in Washington DC, also noted the increasingly irregular public appearances of senior regime figures.

The South Korean government says Kim’s public engagements are down by half so far this year.

Mr Madden said: “In 2017 or 2019 we would see senior officials presiding over or attending certain non-holiday or non-anniversary events.

“Since 2020 it has been highly uneven – putting aside, of course, social distancing.

“Sometimes we see these gents, sometimes we do not.”

South Korea’s spy agency (NIS) was unable to confirm the explosion.

“The outbreak of a bombing attack has not been identified, but we are tracking related situations,” a spokesperson told the press.

It’s unclear how many people were hurt in the blast, but The Dong-a Ilbo article suggested that there had been several casualties.

The newspaper speculated that a bomb attack could have been motivated by anger at the country’s worsening food crisis and the threat of starvation.

Mr Madden said it could also have been an attempt to steal food rather than exact revenge.

He said: “Another theory is that the explosion was staged so that a group could steal supplies off of a truck.

“In the West, if we want to carjack someone we get them at a red light or maybe fake a car malfunction and flag them down from the side of the road.  

“In North Korea that wouldn't fly, especially with trucks or van carrying food. So, they detonate an explosive, tip the truck and take the supplies.”

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The NIS said the number of "large scale and organised" crimes had soared in the last year in North Korea, with violent crimes tripling.

This includes a number of incidents where homemade bombs were hurled in an attempt to extort goods, it added.

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