North Korea is “encouraging” new military officers to take on difficult tasks on the front lines, which is another example of forcing less privileged people to “volunteer” for awkward duties, sources in the country told RFA.
Because it is technically still at war with prosperous South Korea, North Korea forces every man to serve at least seven years in the armed forces after graduating from high school, but those who are well connected or promising can enter military academies and become officers more easily.
1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th The Corps of the People’s Army of Korea are first-line units stationed in areas of North Korea closest to the Demilitarized Zone that separates the north from the south. Even for officers, service at the front is more difficult, dangerous, and requires much more work than other tasks.
“My son and most of his friends from this year’s graduation at the O Jin Artillery Academy are deployed in 1.st and 5th Corps, front units in Kangwon Province, ”a farmer from Ryanggang province in the north of the country told the Korean RFA service on Thursday.
“The political department of the Academy forced them to volunteer, saying it was a request from the party,” said the farmer, who asked for anonymity to speak freely.
The farmer said his son had previously been deployed at 7 p.m.th Corps in the province of South Hamgyong in the east of the country, a relatively easy task in the background.
“When he went to the military academy, he expected to return to his original unit, but when graduation approached … they gathered all the students from the rear units and said: ‘You had a good time in the army. It is your duty as soldiers and party members to go to the front lines and follow the will of the Supreme Commander, ”said the farmer, referring to the country’s leader Kim Jong Un.
“At the meeting before graduation, the head of the academy told our son:” The request of the Secretary General is that you go to 1.st The corps, the country’s main outpost, ‘basically made him volunteer,’ the farmer said.
The head of the academy told his son that it would be helpful in the future if he volunteered for duty 1.st Corps and would be a good display of his loyalty, according to the farmer.
“If he did not listen to the request to join the unit on the front line, it would leave a trace in his personal file and would follow him until the end of his days. Moreover, all his hard work in the last three years to become a military officer as the son of a low farmer will be in vain, ”said the farmer.
All the graduates from the back naturally volunteered for the service at the front, says the farmer.
“Who would dare not listen to the demands of the party?”
Former soldier who served in 1st The corps told the RFA that the frontal service was so bad that no one wanted to serve in those units.
“The province of Kangwon is very mountainous, so there are not many people, and the transport situation is very inconvenient. The working and living conditions are terrible, ”said the former soldier, who now lives in North Hamgyong in the country’s northeast.
“Once assigned to the front unit, it is almost impossible to be reassigned to the rear unit. The greatest wish for 1st Corps soldiers and their families are going to the rear unit north of Chollyong, ”said a former soldier who requested anonymity for security reasons.
Chollyong is an area of Kangwon Province known for its 99 steep peaks and valleys. The rugged terrain makes any task there extremely difficult, and everything north of Chollyong is compared to the awkward last task.
„1st and 5th The corps are versatile corps, bigger than the others, and they are the key units that the party focuses on the most, “said the former soldier.
Kim Jong Un ‘s father and predecessor Kim Jong Il visited 1st and 5th Corps during the 1994-1998 famine in North Korea To encourage them to prevent any unexpected chaos at a time when the country was on the verge of collapse, the former soldier said.
“I don’t know how I endured more than 20 years at the base in that mountain range in Kangwon Province. I still shudder to think about that time, “said the former soldier.
The former soldier said that all officers at the front always try to go into the background, and that no one wants to serve there when they finish the academy, so the authorities force them to volunteer.
“Ultimately, the reality of this country’s army is that the children of the poor and powerless have no choice but to serve at the front.”
Reported by Chang Gyu Ahn for the Korean RFA service. Translated by Lee’s Jun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.