Kim Jong Un and various high-ranking North Korean officials have visited a coastal defense station located on the Mahap Islet, with a North Korean firepower plan shown in the picture targeting a nearby South Korean island, state media reported on Friday.
Visiting the site with officials, including Vice-Marshal of the Korean People’s Army Hwang Pyong So, this visit might be Kim’s closest approach to South Korean territory this year, with the unit located less than 20 kilometers away from the nearest South Korean land.
“Kim Jong Un…inspected the defense detachment on Mahap Islet in the western sector of the front,” KCNA reported on Friday.
“He mounted an observation post where he learned in detail about the deployment of artillery pieces and combat readiness after being briefed on the firepower strike plan of the detachment.”
An analysis of 121 reports by party organ Rodong Sinmun on Kim Jong Un’s official functions in 2016 showed his visit to the Mahap Islet might be his closest to the South this year.
Neither the English language version on KCNA nor the Korean version of the article from Rodong Sinmun explained what exactly was drawn on the North Korean “firepower strike plan.”
However, the plan showed that Kim Jong Un was being briefed while looking at the map of an island that shared a strong resemblance to the Baengnyeong Island, South Korea, as seen in the picture above.
“The KPA units in Mahap Islet is small in its size, but extremely threatening to ROK forces,” Choi Hyun-ho, director of Milidom.net, a South Korean military-focused website, told NK News.
“This KPA unit is also close to Daecheong Island (22 kilometers) and Socheong Island (23 kilometers). The artillery pieces seen in the photos are M-46, the Soviet 130 mm artillery that has the range of around 27 kilometers, capable of shooting six rounds per minute.”
During a phone call with NK News, ROK Marine Corps officials from 6th Marine Brigade (the unit located on Baengnyeong Island) and the ROK Marine Corps Headquarters refused to provide comments related to this issue for reasons of national security.
A South Korean marine veteran – who has served at Baengnyeong Island – said he is not surprised to see Kim Jong Un keeping an eye on the region.
“There is no reason to be agitated,” the veteran told NK News, choosing to remain anonymous as he is currently working for the Seoul government.
“The ROK Marine Corps in the region has been ‘always’ targeted by the North, so this map only reaffirms what the ROK forces know already. Our troops have been trained hard to deter exactly what North Korean forces shown in the photos might be planning.”
Kim Jong Un’s closest approach to the South reportedly took place in 2012, when he was seen observing the South from DMZ, Yonhap News Agency reported.
Edited by: Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Rodong Sinmun