February 26, 2019 | 04:44 pm GMT+7

Elite soldiers protect North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

The black-suited bodyguards accompanying North Korean leader Kim Jong-un go through a very tough selection process.

The bodyguards accompany the car of Kim Jong-un to Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa-Giang Huy 

The bodyguards accompany the car of Kim Jong-un to Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa-Giang Huy 

Kim Jong-un was flanked by 12 bodyguards as he arrived at the Dong Dang train station in northern Lang Son Province this morning.

The bodyguards, in black suits with special badges, surrounded Kim as he entered a Mercedes-Maybach S600 car heading to Hanoi. Six guards stood on each side of the car, and later ran along for 30 meters after its departure.

The elite guards are carefully selected from the ranks of military soldiers, with some of the criteria being that they are of the same height as President Kim, possess excellent martial arts skills and are excellent marksmen.

They form the last security layer for the North Korean leader. They belong to the Main Office of Adjutants of North Korea, Michael Madd, an expert on high-profile leaders, told BBC.

The bodyguards run alongside the car for around 30 meters. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa-Giang Huy 

The bodyguards run alongside Kim Jong-un’s car for 30 meters after its departure. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa-Giang Huy

Candidates who pass the qualifying tests are then screened by a family history verification process spanning two generations. Many bodyguards are believed to be related to the Kim family and other elite families in North Korea.

Once they meet the eligibility criteria, they will have to undergo rigorous training in shooting, martial arts, endurance and fighting spirit under harsh conditions.

The guards surround the leader to create an observation angle of up to 360 degrees.

The group covering Kim in front typically has 3-5 people, including the captain. Sticking to each side of the North Korean leader are 4 to 6 guards. The rear group has around 4-5 members.

They are believed to prioritize the use of old communication methods, namely wearing special badges for each event and using encrypted slangs to communicate, said Madd.

The second and third security layers, comprising forces of North Korea’s Command Guard, are tasked with examining the locations and surrounding areas where leaders are present, and maintaining confidential communications for the leader.

Candidates to be bodyguards are screened by a family history verification process spanning two generations. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa-Giang Huy

The bodyguards possess excellent martial arts skills and are excellent marksmen. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa-Giang Huy

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un arrived in Hanoi today morning, where the second North Korea-U.S summit will take place in February 27-28. U.S President Donald Trump is expected to arrive tonight.

Nguyen Hoang    

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