New recruits entering the North Korean People's Army must be in the position to input at least $300 into their first year of service if they wish to avoid malnutrition, reported a source on October 13th. The source comments that this is resulting in a change in attitude, as parents already in a state of anxiety as the time comes for their children to enter the armed services now feel disgust with the regime's system. The source has pursued tenaciously matters related to the military service of new recruits within the North Korean military authorities during the past year. This is what he had to tell us about conditions as they are now.
A recruit entering West Pyongyang 1st Ryodan corps in April of this year has been receiving 150,000 won from his parents on a monthly basis for the past six months to get by. This acutely burdensome sum of 900,000 won is the equivalent of around $300. Inspite of the 1st Ryodan's ranking as a high level corps in the North Korean military to which supplies are supposedly regular, it means that those unable to meet basic needs from their own pocket are susceptible to the threat of common malnutrition. Another new recruit who entered the 5th corps light infantry division stationed at Pyeong-gang in Gangwon Province in April 2010, required 200,000 won of his family's money in his first year of service, since which time he has found it necessary to procure another 100,000 won. Three out of four new recruits in the same battery had to find and buy suitable uniform from the market. They too are receiving the average amount of financial support from their parents. $300 is an insufficient amount for the course of a single year. If new recruits come from struggling backgrounds it makes their period of military service a daunting prospect unless they take to thieving.
When asked if all new recruits face the same situation of requiring at least a hundred to two hundred thousand won, the source replied, "At certain miserable delapidated bases, such as those of military engineers or general infantry it is practically normal for there to be no regular supply of military uniform. And so new recruits must take money they brought from their homes to the market to find a uniform that fits." The source averred that for the most part such recruits would seek only to save their own skins in the event of war. "They wear the uniform with earnestness," answered the source when asked why, "yet would be malnourished within three months if they were to rely on the supplies provided by the army authorities. The fact that what little supplies soldiers receive are embezzled by seniors makes it unlikely that they would lay down their lives for the same people who would be ordering them about in the event of war."
This applies particularly to those soldiers whose own parents struggle desperately to get by but must use their own parents resources to get by. The formerly relied upon "revolutionary ardor" and "spirit of safeguarding the great leader" are dead letters. Since the advent of the Lee Myung-bak administration in 2008 and currency reform of 2009 hardened the difficulties facing North Koreans, the peacetime spirit of social sacrifice has collapsed to be replaced with something more akin to "what's yours is mine" as people eat alone and in secret. When formerly the youth alliance would criticize such individualism as contrary to the revolutionary spirit it is now accepted as the norm. This is a widespread reality of life in the North Korean army.
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