◆Rank-and-file soldiers starving the most
Perhaps the hungriest group in North Korea is the soldiers of the People’s Army. The military is given plots of farmland in order to help procure food but, in most cases, soldiers are highly dependent upon the state’s food supplies. A shortage of supply is becoming increasingly common though, as the government does not have the resources to feed an estimated 1 million troops- an entire 5% of its population.
In addition, embezzlement and fraud is rampant, with military officers frequently selling military provisions on to private markets. Given this situation, it is a common saying in North Korea that, “If you join the army, you will suffer from malnutrition.” (It must be noted, of course, that there are special forces and other units, such as those stationed at Panmunjom, which are favored.)
The way to reduce hunger in the military is simple. The excessive number of troops needs to be reduced in order to allow hungry soldiers to return to society and engage in free economic activity.
◆ If you believe in ‘brotherly love’, send food first to those most in need
President Moon Jae-in, in a live KBS broadcast on May 9, said, “In the name of brotherly love and humanitarianism, we must provide food aid.”
If that is the case, identifying where and by whom this support is most urgently needed is of great importance. The priorities of the Kim Jong-un regime will be far different however. The regime will be vying for aid to be distributed to the specific regions, organizations, industries, and personnel which are most critical to maintaining power.
Simply sending rice to the regime is not satisfactory. If President Moon is taking the idea of ‘brotherly love’ seriously, he must put every effort into sending food to those most in need. (Kang Ji-won / ISHIMARU Jiro)
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