North Korea 'buys anti-riot gear from China'
North Korea has bought large amounts of anti-riot equipment from China in recent months, South Korea's main news agency says.
This was apparently to prepare for possible unrest in the country, it said.
The Yonhap news agency said Pyongyang had created a special police force; it had also considered buying flak jackets and other anti-riot equipment.
The United Nations says North Korea is facing severe food shortages.
An unnamed source told the Yonhap news agency that North Korea had bought tear gas, helmets and shields from traders in China's north-eastern city of Shenyang.
The report said the country was also believed to have created a nationwide task-force of riot police to quell any unrest.
North Korea is thought to have suppressed information about recent uprisings in the Middle East, apparently not wanting the news to reach its own people.
It is also preparing celebrations of North Korean strength and prosperity next year - to mark 100 years since the birth of the country's founder, Kim Il-sung.