◆ Embezzlement rampant as officer morale declines

So, how do officers live? This what the investigating partner had to say:

“Officers cannot live without the support of their families doing business in the markets. Originally, participation in markets by family members of officers was strictly prohibited, but there was no other way for them to survive. In addition, money collected from the parents of enlisted soldiers is another important source of income.”

North Korean men are required to serve 10 years of military service upon graduation from high school at the age of 17. Women, meanwhile, if drafted, are to serve 5-6 year military terms. As the military’s food situation is very poor, however, many suffer from malnutrition shortly after entering service. Parents, worried about their sons and daughters, often visit the bases to provide them with food or money. When doing so, they usually give some money or goods to officers in return for this accommodation.

Structurally speaking, the embezzlement and loss of military supplies and food by officers and officials is very serious. They are illegally selling military supplies of gasoline, diesel, food, and equipment to vendors.

“A recent complaint among officers is the housing problem,” said the investigating partner. When an enlisted soldier becomes an officer or his unit moves, the army is supposed to secure a house for their use. They say it is not uncommon, however, to wait for several years to be provided with one. During this waiting period, they must live in shared accomodation in a room with complete strangers.

It is only natural that a deterioration in the treatment of officers has resulted in corruption and a loss of morale and military discipline. Forced to risk their lives to protect the government and the “Revolutionary Leader”, Kim Jong-un, the reality for enlisted officers is that life would be far easier as a market vendor. (ISHIMARU Jiro)

Editor’s notes on North Korean reporters

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