South Korean military units, including those surrounding the Gyeonggi province that envelops South Korea’s capital of Seoul, have admitted to using images of Kim Jong-Il, his youngest son, and the dictator’s late father as targets during firing drills.
The South Korean defence ministry initially said that military were to use whatever images individual commanders chose as targets during firing drills. “Details of military practices are for each training centre to decide”, they said. However, the government has now instructed all military units to put the practice of using images of North Korea’s ruling family as firing targets to an end.
Pictures of targets depicting Kim Jong-Il, his youngest son and heir Kim Jong-Un, and Kim Jong-Il’s late father Kim Il-Sung have been published by several local media.
The reports are disclosed at an extremely tense time for inter-Korean relations: Chosun Ilbo newspaper has quoted a military official as saying that the exercise is aimed at “boosting battle spirit”, following the two North Korean strikes upon the South last year that first sunk a South Korean warship near the region of Jinhae and then opened fire upon border island Yeonpyeong.
“Some voice concern that the practice can provoke the North, but one should not forget the North staged two attacks that killed our civilians and soldiers”, the official cited by Chosun stated.
The North is still denying accusations from the South of torpedoing the South Korean warship last March. 46 lives were lost in the sinking.
The South’s contempt for portraits of the North’s ruling family would be a severe criminal offence in the North. In the North, Kim Jong-Il has successfully brainwashed a nation in which inhabitants believe in and pander to his desired standing of a religious figure. It is thus that a colossal celebrity cult also surrounds the dictator and the rest of his family in North Korea.