◆ Rank-and-file soldiers hide so as to call their parents

When the reporting partner asked his son, now in his fourth year in the military, about the situation, he replied, “I ask to use a civilian’s house near the base and make calls from there a few times a week.”

Since the 90’s, insufficient meals have resulted in widespread malnutrition among young soldiers. Naturally, the worried parents of enlisted soldiers have found ways to look after their children, usually by leaving cash for them at private houses near army bases.

Of course, parents give a small gratuity to these private houses, which they refer to as “our home”. Families who can afford to do so, even leave mobile phones at the homes so they may hear from their child occasionally.

So has the order from the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces been effective?

The reporting partner explained, “Despite the crackdown, most officers still hold onto their mobile phones but use them when they return home, rather than at the base. You can see officers in plain clothes using their phones at the market. It will not be easy to put an end to it.”

Since the inauguration of the Kim Jong-un regime, there have been serious leaks of military secrets, with South Korea’s KBS and NHK networks, as well as the Tokyo Shimbun, reporting between 2013 and 2014 on corruption, lack of discipline, and a shortage of soldiers in the North Korean military.

Editor’s notes on North Korean reporters

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