BEIJING (Yonhap News) ― North Korea has recently created a special police task force and bought large amounts of anti-riot gear from China in an apparent attempt to cope with any possible riots in the North, a source said Tuesday.
The communist North purchased tear gas, helmets and shields through Chinese merchants in China’s northeastern city of Shenyang in recent months, the source said.
The North has also considered buying flak jackets, protective clothing and other equipment that could be used against rioters, the source said.
The development indicated the North is concerned about any possible popular uprising similar to the ones in North Africa and the Middle East that ousted longtime autocratic leaders.
The North has created a special police task force across the country that it has trained to quash any riots.
There have been reports of growing discontent in the North over chronic food shortages and political oppression.
The North’s botched currency reform in 2009 caused public backlash as it led to massive inflation and worsened food shortages, though no organized opposition has emerged to challenge leader Kim Jong-il.
Kim has ruled the country of 24 million with an iron fist since 1994 and tolerates no dissident. He was accused by rights groups of using public executions as a political tool to silence any domestic criticism.