Aug. 25 (UPI) -- North Korea may have hired more than 10 former KGB agents as military advisers as concerns grew that leader Kim Jong Un could become the target of an assassination, according to a Japanese newspaper.
The Asahi Shimbun reported Friday concerns about Kim's safety prompted the regime to bring in Russian spies, many of who had been active in the former Soviet Union.
"In February, North Korea invited to Pyongyang about 10 former staff of the KGB's anti-terrorism unit with experience in suppression strategy, to Pyongyang, and entrusted them to carry out the training of [North Korea] escort commanders," a North Korean source on the matter told the Asahi.
North Korea's escort command has an exclusive responsibility to protect Kim, who, according to state media, has been targeted for a U.S. and South Korean decapitation operation.
The Asahi's source said the move was a "countermeasure against the Kim Jong Un 'beheading operation,' which the United States and South Korea are currently reviewing."
"North Korea is showing great interest in defending against assassination carried out by U.S.-made state-of-the-art weapons," the source said. "[Authorities] asked [KGB agents] to carry out military education and training needed in detecting and pre-emptively suppressing acts of terror."
Pyongyang is particularly wary of the U.S. military's Gray Eagle, a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft system, because authorities think the United States could deploy it in a potential beheading operation, the Asahi reported.
In May, North Korea stated the CIA and South Korea's National Intelligence Service paid a bribe to a North Korean citizen, and trained him as a terrorist along with other "accomplices."