Excessive security annoys Putin aides and disturbs citizens in Pyongyang

Several senior Russian officials were undiplomatically expelled from a meeting room by North Korean security during last week’s visit to Pyongyang by Vladimir Putin, underscoring the way in which, the new official upgrade of relations notwithstanding, Russians and North Koreans don’t actually get along.

A video shared on X by Estonian blogger Dmitri shows the Russians being thrown out and expressing open dissatisfaction, complaining, “This wasn’t mentioned when we came in.”

The Russians allegedly violated the rules by entering the room before North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The top officials at the receiving end of North Korean security included Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Defense Minister Andrey Belousov, Health Minister Mikhail Murashko, Roscosmos State Space Corporation Director Yury Borisov, First Deputy Prime Minister Denis Manturov, and Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Savelyev.

The incident gives a glimpse into the extreme security and excessive protocol surrounding Kim Jong-un.

According to several sources, a curfew was imposed from 8 pm to 7 am on June 19-21 in some border areas and in parts of Pyongyang. The dates coincided with Putin’s visit.

One source said citizens were made to wait for seven hours from 5 am for a welcoming event for Putin in Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang. 

Besides the usual checking of IDs and names against lists and metal detectors, soldiers stood by armed with automatic weapons.

The Daedong Bridge leading to Kim Il-sung Square and also the Okryu Bridge and its surroundings were filled with an unprecedented number of armed soldiers.

“The children were just excited to see the soldiers’ automatic rifles slung over their shoulders,” one source said. “However, it was not pleasant for participants to see children made to wait from 5 AM to ensure an event starting at noon, being passed through metal detectors, and entering a venue guarded by fully armed soldiers.”

To make things worse for the crowds, the temperature in the capital reached 38 degrees Celsius that day. Some children needed medical treatment, the source said. 

Other sources spotted soldiers with machine guns positioned on rooftops. In the past, these weapons were hidden, but for some reason this time, they were visible, instilling fear among the citizens.

Analysts say Kim has increased his focus on security over fears of a potential backlash over recently intensified controls. This year, North Korea has also forced citizens in Pyongyang and other regions to relocate under the guise of voluntary resource mobilization.

Zane Han

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