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(LEAD) N. Korean leader inspects navy submarine unit

2014/06/16 12:02

SEOUL, June 16 (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected a navy submarine unit, and stressed the need to raise combat preparations and underwater operation capability, the country's official news wire reported Monday.

During his visit to the Korean People's Army's Naval Unit 167, Kim inspected "various indoor trainings including the drill for launching torpedoes at the underwater comprehensive training room," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in an English-language dispatch.

Kim also toured submarine No. 748 and guided a navy drill aboard the vessel, while also teaching navigation methods to its captain, according to the KCNA.

The naval unit appears to be part of the North Korean military's Large Combined Unit 597, which belongs to the East Sea fleet command located in the North's South Hamgyong Province.

This Rodong Sinmun photo released on June 16, 2014, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un aboard a submarine during his visit to the North's Naval Unit 167 stationed on the east coast. (Yonhap)

This Rodong Sinmun photo released on June 16, 2014, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un aboard a submarine during his visit to the North's Naval Unit 167 stationed on the east coast. (Yonhap)

"The Party Central Committee is attaching great importance to the combined units of submarines," the KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

Kim also set forth "the tasks to be fulfilled to round off the combat preparations of the unit and remarkably bolster up the underwater operation capability of submarines and modernize and fortify bases," according to the KCNA.

"The commanding officers and seamen should clearly see through the motives of the hateful enemies watching for a chance to invade our land and put spurs to combat preparations, thinking about battles only," the KCNA also quoted Kim as saying.

The North's main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, also published eight photos showing the submarine and its leader on its turret to conduct the drill.

The rusty, green submarine was presumed to be a 1,800-ton Romio-class submarine, which is a class of Soviet diesel-electric sub built in the 1950s. It is the largest submarine the communist North has.

"It is quite unusual that North Korea revealed even the inside of its submarine. It appears that Pyongyang aims to show off its submarine might," defense ministry spokesperson Kim Min-seok told a regular briefing.

"But the submarines that our Navy holds are far superior to (the North's), as ours do not make much noise and it can stay underwater far longer," he added.

Among those who accompanied Kim on the latest visit were Hwang Pyong-so, the military's top political officer, and Pyon In-son, director of the military's operations bureau, according to the KCNA report.

Two days earlier, the state media reported a similar inspection by Kim to another unit of the East Sea fleet command, in which he highlighted combat readiness.

This Rodong Sinmun photo released on June 16, 2014, shows a submarine, which is presumed to be a 1,800-ton Romio-class submarine built in the 1950s. It is the largest submarine the communist North has. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un conducted a drill on board the submarine during his visit to the country's Naval Unit 167, which is stationed on the east coast. (Yonhap)

This Rodong Sinmun photo released on June 16, 2014, shows a submarine, which is presumed to be a 1,800-ton Romio-class submarine built in the 1950s. It is the largest submarine the communist North has. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un conducted a drill on board the submarine during his visit to the country's Naval Unit 167, which is stationed on the east coast. (Yonhap)

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