North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is reportedly so terrified of being targeted for assassination that he travels incognito inside the Hermit Kingdom, and there’s growing evidence his paranoia may be well-founded.
The 33-year-old, third-generation ruler is “extremely nervous” about a clandestine plot to take him out, according to a key South Korean lawmaker who spoke to The Korea Herald. Rep. Lee Cheol-woo, chairman of the South Korean parliament’s intelligence committee, made the claim based on reports from South Korea’s intelligence agency.
“Kim is engrossed with collecting information about the ‘decapitation operation’ through his intelligence agencies,” Lee said following a briefing last week. The rumored “decapitation plan” to target Kim and key deputies in the event fighting broke out on the peninsula first surfaced in late 2015, when the U.S. and South Korea signed “Operation Plan 5015,” a joint strategy for possible war scenarios with North Korea. According to the Brookings Institute, the plan “envisions limited warfare with an emphasis on preemptive strikes on strategic targets in North Korea and “decapitation raids” to exterminate North Korean leaders.”
Something about the term “decapitation” seems to have gotten the attention of the gout-addled, unpredictable and violent dictator. According to Lee, Kim’s is so frightened that he now disguises his movements, travels primarily at dawn and in the cars of his henchmen. Public appearances and jaunts in his prized Mercedes Benz 600 have been curtailed.
During this year’s Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises with South Korea, one of the largest annual military exercises in the world, members of U.S. Navy SEAL teams reportedly participated in decapitation drills with our South Korean counterparts for the first time. Shortly after those war games, the USS Michigan, a submarine that is sometimes used to move U.S. Special Forces, took a position just off of North Korea’s coast.
But while taking out Kim may be a possibility, experts say it would be much more complicated that the 2011 raid in Pakistan in which CIA operatives and SEALs took out Bin Laden.
“Pyongyang is surrounded by antiaircraft weapons, and while the corpulent Kim presents a large and sluggish target, he’s kept on the move, always surrounded by fanatical guards and often near or in complex underground compounds,” Mark Sauter, a former U.S. Army and special forces officer, said.