North Korean military officers are ordering their starving soldiers to steal unripened corn from local farms, according to NK Daily, a Seoul news outlet with sources inside North Korea.
Meanwhile, the reclusive communist regime’s leader, Kim Jung Un, continues to hype all-out war, carrying out another failed test with a missile that flew over Japan several days ago.
People in North Korea are becoming increasingly frustrated with the regime, wondering why resources are funneled into the missile program while the country is famished and food is rationed, NK Daily reported.
With the corn harvest coming up in September, local residents are guarding their farms day and night, but that is not preventing gangs of armed and malnourished soldiers from dragging sacks of corn from the fields.
“Young soldiers tired of relentless hunger are frequently deserting the army to steal food. Even military officers are encouraging the practice,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK.
“The military officers are instructing their soldiers, exhausted after training, to eat corn in the fields because war is imminent. They are even threatening their soldiers, saying, ‘If you become malnourished despite permission to eat the corn, you will face difficulties,'” a source told Daily NK.
Stealing food from local farms has become a common practice for North Korean military since the state food supply system has become largely dysfunctional since the mid-1990s.
“A soldier who fails to acquire enough food during the autumn harvest is deemed a fool. The soldiers are stealing food using any method they can think of. In addition, as the military officers turn a blind eye toward these activities due to the lack of food within the army, even the collective farmlands and private fields are becoming the targets of food raids,” the source told Daily NK.
The soldiers are poorly fed even during periods of intensive training, forcing emaciated soldiers to take to the fields. Soldiers are often seen with sacks of unripened corn at local markets, selling it at cheap prices based on deals they made with merchants in advance.
“Because of this, many residents are criticizing the army, saying, ‘How will you fight a war with these thieves?’ Some are arguing that the military should first create an environment in which the soldiers do not have to steal in the first place,” a source in Ryanggang told NK Daily.
As the populace grows disillusioned, Kim Jung Un is making efforts to prop up the popularity of the missile program, sending teams to travel around the country to promote the successful launch of the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). Meanwhile, lectures about the importance of the ICBM program are being held at state-run companies, Telegraph reported.
“People are still starving and there are homeless orphans on the streets, so naturally the residents are resentful about having to celebrate a missile launch”, a source told DailyNK.
Local neighborhood watch units have increased the mandatory payments collected from residents. Locals increasingly resent these units, since the funds, which are meant for local construction projects, are clearly funding the missile program, according to the Telegraph.
“In the beginning, the residents were proud of the regime openly opposing the U.S. with nuclear development and missiles, but these days, anti-U.S. sentiment has weakened while respect for the regime has plummeted,” a source told Daily NK, according to the Telegraph.
“Everyone is aware that whenever the regime launches a missile, economic sanctions will follow”, the source added. “There’s nothing to celebrate for the ordinary citizens,” the source added.