(Photo) A young border guard (left) and an ordinary soldier stand guard inside the barbed wire. Both of them are very thin. Photographed from the Chinese side of Sinuiju City in July 2021.


In North Korea, the harvest of corn, which is the country's staple food, is now over. According to our reporting partner, who lives in the northern region around Ryanggang Province and North Hamkyung Province, the crop conditions are much worse than usual. This is because of a shortage of fertilizer, plastic, and other farming materials during the spring sowing season.

Since September, the cooperative farms around the country have been busy with threshing and drying. Tension is mounting. Grain theft is rampant, and fields and warehouses have to be guarded 24 hours a day. In addition to the farmworkers, the militia (called the Red Guards) have been sent to monitor the fields with guns, and the police have also dispatched personnel to stand guard.

"Our main concern are the hungry soldiers. Since food is so scarce and contact with civilians is strictly forbidden due to COVID, they come to the farm facilities and fields to steal. It's robbery. It's a big problem for the authorities too," said a reporting partner living in North Hamkyung Province.


Map of the Chinese-North Korean border region (ASIAPRESS)

Soldiers even attack a farm.

ASIAPRESS received a report on a specific incident from our reporting partner in Ryanggang Province. On September 10, soldiers attacked a cooperative farm field in Potairi, Samjiyon County, near the Chinese border. A local farmer gave the following summary of the incident.

“Three soldiers walked into the potato field, telling the farmer on guard that he must 'support the People's Army.' They then dug up the potatoes and stole them. The attack happened twice in three hours. The farmer was assaulted and had his leg broken, which was very serious.

The Workers' Party Committee in Potairi visited the nearby border guards to protest. However, the soldiers who attacked the farmer could not be identified because they wore masks used to stop COVID. The border guards claimed that it wasn’t their soldiers who committed the robbery, but the ‘storm troopers.’ When confronted, the ‘storm troopers’ said that it was probably discharged soldiers. The issue grew so large that it was reported to the upper corps, and they were instructed to find the soldiers who assaulted the farmer no matter what. However, no blame has been placed until now.”

※Storm Troopers: A division of top military personnel who were selected from all over the country and dispatched to the border region with China about two to three years ago in order to control residents.

Hungry soldiers are desperate to get food at any cost. According to our reporting partner, soldiers use their patrols as an excuse to wander around at night looking for food. They even enter houses to steal and steal livestock, including whole cows. Naturally, farms are desperate to protect their crops. As a result, there are frequent flights between farm guards, storm troopers, and border patrol soldiers (Kang Ji-won).