North Korean army officers are reportedly ordering malnourished soldiers to steal food to stay fit for “imminent war.”
As North Korean provocations ratchet up tensions in a dangerous region, the reclusive regime is emphasizing the need for combat readiness, even ordering troops to steal food, according to the Daily NK, a South Korean outlet with connections inside North Korea.
North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan Tuesday, warning that this provocative test was a “prelude” to possible strikes on or around Guam. The threat of war is growing, but lower-ranking troops are struggling to prepare. (RELATED: North Korea Warns Shot Over Japan Was ‘Prelude’ To Possible Strikes On Guam)
“The military officers are instructing their soldiers, exhausted after training, to eat corn in the fields because war is imminent,” a source inside North Hamgyong Province told reporters. “They are even threatening their soldiers, saying, ‘If you become malnourished despite permission to eat the corn, you will face difficulties.'”
“The soldiers are stealing food using any method they can think of,” the source added. “As the military officers turn a blind eye toward these activities due to the lack of food within the army, even the collective farmlands and private fields are becoming the targets of food raids.” Some North Korean citizens are reportedly questioning how the country can fight a war with thieves.
Stealing food is common practice as the state food distribution centers have not functioned properly since the 1990s, when North Korea was hit by a massive famine that killed more than 1 million people.
North Korea spends roughly 25 percent of its GDP on the military, investing heavily in its nuclear and ballistic missile development programs, but it does not have the ability to properly feed its troops, at least not the lower-ranking soldiers.
North Korean troops are “in poor physical condition and in no fit state to fight,” Japanese filmmaker Jiro Ishimaru, who has ties to sources inside North Korea, told the Guardian. “There are too many soldiers to feed and corruption is rife, so that by the time senior military officers have taken their share of food provisions to sell for profit on the private market, there is next to nothing left for ordinary soldiers.”
“The regime has not been providing enough food for its army,” another Daily NK source said, “leaving many soldiers suffering from malnutrition and attempting desertion.” (RELATED: North Korea Is Forcing Middle School Kids To Request Enlistment As Threat Of War Grows)
The North Korean military has limited resources that impact soldiers and equipment, but while these aspects of the armed forces suffer, the country is advancing its nuclear and ballistic missile programs at an accelerated rate, escalating tensions.
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