A thin young man, a military officer, buying goods at a market. Photographed in Hyesan City, Ryanggang Province, in August, 2013 (ASIAPRESS)

◆Soldiers can't even go to the farm to pick up rice

On the other hand, blocking soldiers from seeing civilians is causing problems in securing food for the military. Normally, in October and November, soldiers go to cooperative farms to secure food by joining the harvest- but it is now difficult for the food to be transported to bases.

After harvesting rice or corn from the paddy field, it would normally be dried, threshed, and taken for military use. But plaguing such operations is the issue of theft. Each year, soldiers went to farms to monitor the harvest, and soldiers from rear units would take control of transporting the supply after the crops were threshed.

This year, however, the situation is different. A reporting partner who is investigating a farm in North Hamkyung Province said the following on November 18.

“Some time ago, all the soldiers monitoring the harvest were withdrawn and police were used instead. This was to avoid contact between soldiers and civilians. The job of transporting crops also changed hands from the soldiers to military laborers (workers in charge of odd jobs in the military), but the work is being delayed.”

Problems are springing up in the villages. Farmers had been promised payment by soldiers for the food and goods they had supplied to the military on credit. According to the reporting partner, “There are many farmers who failed to recover their losses because of the sudden withdrawal [of soldiers.]"

The cover of the “July 25th message” document, in which Kim Jong-un acknowledges an outbreak of coronavirus. The document is marked top-secret.

◆ Kim Jong-un admitted to coronavirus outbreak

At the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea on October 10, Kim Jong-un declared "zero infections" by saying, "Thank you for all being healthy without a single victim of the malicious virus.” Indeed, North Korea continued to report to the World Health Organization (WHO) that there have been no infections so far. However, the internal documents obtained by ASIAPRESS contained remarks by Kim Jong-un acknowledging the coronavirus's entry into the region, admitting, "We could not stop it.” (Kang Ji-won)

※ ASIAPRESS contacts its reporting partners in North Korea through smuggled Chinese mobile phones.

Editor’s notes on North Korean reporters

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