North Korean soldier deserts army in bid to punish supervisor

Kim Chae Hwan  |  2017-05-02 21:12
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It has been reported that a North Korean soldier deserted prior to Kim Il Sung's birthday (April 15) in order to get his supervisor punished.

"On April 12, there was a desertion incident in the 10th corps stationed in Ryanggang Province. The soldier, who has been enlisted for about two years, has not been found," a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on April 26. 

"The soldier had been repeatedly beaten by his superior for alleged insubordination and 'non-conformity.' The soldier could not tolerate it, and deserted the army at the time of the national holiday (Kim Il Sung's birthday). His calculus seems to be that his supervisor would be punished for a desertion that occurs during a national holiday."

Since the Kim Jong Un regime took power, the internal control and restrictions on soldiers have been strengthened in order to tighten discipline. It has been reported that senior officers are frequently and heavily beating those accused of insubordination within the ranks.

Notwithstanding the regimes attempts to rebuild cohesion within the military, low-ranking soldiers on the receiving end of harsh treatment are becoming increasingly dissatisfied.

Both sources noted that the issue of disobedience is already widespread within military bases in the border regions. Although the authorities continue to trumpet North Koreas status as a nuclear power, the soldiers themselves are suffering from languishing morale.

The long period of mandatory military service (10 years) and chronic malnutrition are also driving a rising number of desertions.

"The soldier may have decided that he couldnt stand another eight years after enduring repeated beatings without getting properly fed for the past two years. As starving soldiers are even forced to farm the land to survive, those who cannot bear the hardship anymore are deciding to desert," added a separate source in Ryanggang Province.

"In addition, the soldiers are suffering from a lack of morale as the end of the winter training season nears, which is one of the reasons behind the heightened number of desertions. Generally speaking, the young North Korean soldiers nowadays tend to put themselves before the country."

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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