North Korean Army running out of food. Soldiers ordered to sleep rather than do training

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North Korean Army running out of food. Soldiers ordered to sleep rather than do training

North Korea's recent shortage of food is reaching close to the level of the 1990's famine as discontinued food aid from international community is reportedly hurting soldiers most. Surely this is an indication of the end of the regime, when the military start to suffer they think of rebellion, and are the only body capable of doing so.

The food situation in the N. Korean military have rapidly deteriorated since the second half of 2009. Civilians learned to survive without government ration, but soldiers cannot survive unless the state provide them with food. Canceled food aid from international community dealt a serious blow to them.

Since the latter part of last year, many units can only provide a few dozen corn kernels or a couple of potatoes per meal and they have only enough for two meals a day. An order came down to make soldiers sleep in the afternoon and not put them into training or work as much as possible.

Another source said, "Malnutrition among soldiers are increasing fast, and I have even seen a case of an unmarried company commissar who went home, stayed for a month, 'replenish himself with calories', before returning back to his unit."

For last decade or so, the military got the bulk of its food supply from foreign aids. Ships carrying grain or other foodstuff docked at North Korean ports, and soldiers in civilian clothes driving trucks pretended to be civilian workers, hauled grain into them, and drove back to their unit.

Another source is to loot food from civilians. That has been common practice, too.

Yet another source is that military units operate their own farms, growing grain and sometimes cattle.

The Military keeps a large amount of grain for war-time reserve. It can be only released during war. North Korea is quite strict about it. So its off limit to military in peacetime.

Diverting food aid, looting from civilians, and growing their own food cannot completely meet the needs of military. After all, there are millions of them. Many suffer from malnutrition. A phrase is coined for this problem: Yong-shil-goon. 'Yong-shil' is a short abbreviation of malnutrition in Korean. 'Goon' means military. It means army of malnutrition.

Those who cannot get enough food eventually have to seek help from their family. Officers used to condone conscripts to go home for a while when they don't have enough food or get sick. It is a kind of rotation system. Soldiers take turns to go home, recuperate and return to their unit.

However, there are those who just disappear after going out ostensibly to return home. There are reportedly many such soldiers on the run inside Nort Korea. Since everybody is more preoccupied with finding food to survive, catching so many deserters is not exactly a top priority.

Since last year incoming food aid from overseas including South Korea, dried up dramatically. The Military took big chunk of fall harvest, but that was not enough as it was not a good harvest. Currency reform and border crackdown pretty much closed off remaining channels of grain inflow.

Cross-border trade with China and private markets broke down. It is said that some grain was smuggled in for last couple of months into North Korea. Still it is doubtful that they have enough quantity to feed currently starving population.

With the food aid cut off, civilians themselves have little to eat and are starving, not enough grain is smuggled in. All these contribute to the situation that many common soldiers are chronically hungry and weak, which resulted in this latest development.

By netchicken: posted on 6-3-2010

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