UK & World News

  • 16 June 2014, 17:08

North Korea's Kim Jong-Un Joins Submarine Crew

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been photographed taking a ride on the pride of his navy - an aging submarine.

Photos appeared on state television of the dictator posing on the galley of the submarine's conning tower, meeting the ship's crew and apparently directing naval manoeuvres.

South Korea's government expressed surprise at the move as the pictures clearly showed the inside of one of the North's most powerful ships.

The South's Yonhap News Agency said the "rusty, green submarine" was thought to be a 1,800-ton Soviet-built Romeo-class vessel, built in the 1950s.

Pictures of the side of the conning tower showed what looked like furrows or lines where the metal could have undergone repairs.

Yonhap said that the pictures were taken during a visit by Kim to the Korean People's Army's Naval Unit 167.

It quoted North Korea's own news agency KCNA which said that Kim toured "submarine No. 748", guided a navy drill aboard the vessel and taught "navigation methods to its captain".

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

"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."

South Korea's defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said: "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, 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."

The South Korean ship Cheonan is believed to have been sunk by a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine in 2010.

According to a multinational report written for the UN's security council looking into the incident, North Korea has around 70 submarines, including about 20 Romeo-class vessels, 40 Sango class (300 tons) and 10 midget submarines (70-80 tons).

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