Malnourished soldiers ordered to toil in fields

Kim Chae Hwan  |  2017-05-12 17:16
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It has been reported that military officials of the 42nd Brigade stationed in Samsu County, Ryanggang Province, have mobilized soldiers for personal gain and farming duties despite pervasive malnutrition throughout North Koreas armed forces.

Although a significant proportion of the soldiers are malnourished, officers are claiming that it is better for them to move around than lie around.  

"With the start of the busy farming season, soldiers have been mobilized to work all day on farmland controlled by the army, as well as the personal vegetable gardens of senior military officers. It is a shame to see soldiers in feeble health working all day in the fields," a source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on May 10.

"The military officers are exploiting the underfed soldiers, telling them things like, 'Youll need to work on the vegetable field, otherwise you cant expect even a drop of (cooking) oil. [Editors note: cooking oil is valuable to the malnourished due to its high energy density].

However, as the military officials themselves are also enduring economic hardship, the soldiers are said to be receiving little despite their hard labor. The officers keep making empty promises like, "Come again in the fall, I will be able to give you a lot of food then.

The soldiers are not permitted to lodge complaints, which can cost them an exclusion from the list of soldiers suffering from malnutrition. Loss of this status means that an individual faces more difficult circumstances when they return to the barracks.

"In the past, officers used to serve decent food to soldiers who were mobilized for private work, but they have recently been getting nothing but corn rice and salt taken from the army bases for lunch," a separate source in Ryanggang Province said.

"It is hard to understand why the state is forcing so many young men into the army if it cannot properly support and feed them.

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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