1. The Supreme Guard Command
Kim Jong Un’s Supreme Guard Command goes by many names. It’s also known as Unit 963, the Escourt Bureau, Guard Command, Guard Bureau, and the General Guard Bureau (you’d think for simplicity’s sake they’d want to nail one down and stick with it). This group of guards, led by the Supreme Guard commander General Yun Jong-rin, is in charge of protecting Kim Jong Un and his family.
Next: One of the group’s names stems from a superstition.
2. Lucky number 9
Apparently, North Korea’s ruling family is superstitious. The name “Unit 963” was chosen because the number 9 is considered to be a lucky number. 963 is an especially lucky number, then, because “the Command’s designation number is in reference to the numerological construct ‘9 and 6+3=9’ (double nine),” according to Wikipedia.
Next: How they recruit new guards
3. Guards are chosen from high school students
The guard looks for new recruits among high school students, according to the personal testimonies of Lee Young-kuk. Students are lined up and inspected by guards. They’re looking for boys with no scars and well-proportioned bodies. If considered, the guard then looks into the boy’s family history, making sure he comes from a family with devout party loyalty.
Next: The extensive training they undergo
Once chosen, new guards are taken to training camp where they will undergo vigorous training for two years. Taekwondo classes, marksmanship, special operations tactics, and marching in full gear are all included in the training.
Next: Additional guard duties …
5. They’re more than just guards
In addition to protecting Kim Jong Un and his family, the guards have a wide array of skills. They also protect Pyongyang and its surrounding area, with the help of Pyongyang Defense Corps and III Army Corps. Additionally, their other responsibilities include: “chauffeur service, document delivery, IT support, infrastructure maintenance and construction,” according to North Korea Leadership Watch.
Next: Just how many of them are there?
6. There are more of them than you think
This isn’t a group of a hundred guards or so. According to North Korea Leadership Watch, there are “approximately 95,000-100,000 personnel dispersed across the DPRK into approximately six departments, three combat brigades, several bodyguard divisions, and one construction battalion.”
Next: The heavy duty guard equipment
7. Guard equipment
As you might have guessed, guard equipment is pretty heavy duty. Equipment includes: anti-aircraft artillery, multiple-launch rocket systems, armored combat vehicles, tanks, helicopters, jeeps, Mercedes limousine buses, and Russian-made Zil trucks and an unknown inventory of chemical weapons, according to NKLW.
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