I know we have a lot of active military and veterans amongst our readership, so I want them to close their eyes and picture what they did on leave.
Weekend pass to hit the town? Earning a brief respite from 4 a.m. pushups and sleeping in? Seeing family and friends on Christmas vacation? Foraging for food in a godforsaken cornfield in the middle of nowhere?
Perhaps one of these things doesn’t sound like the others, and there’s a very good reason for that: You aren’t a member of North Korea’s armed forces.
A new report from a Seoul-based North Korean watchdog site published last Saturday revealed that the food situation in Kim Jong Un’s regime is so dire that members of his military are being granted leave to find food.
“A series of events including international sanctions and a poor harvest caused by drought has left many in difficult times, and army conscripts are also dealing with the failure of the authorities to provide sufficient food rations,” Daily NK reported.
“More people are worried about food this year than last year,” a source in Ryanggang Province told the publication. “Even though the price of rice hasn’t changed much in the markets, people are especially worried that the effects of international sanctions will continue to mount and soon cause even more problems.
“Many are having to deal with aggressive loansharks demanding payments, and so they’re out trying to sell items on the street and not even thinking about going home to celebrate the New Year. But the markets are busy and prices are a bit lower with all the increased activity.”
— The Daily NK (@The_Daily_NK) January 2, 2018
“Border military forces have been given time off to go home and collect food to bring back. There were soldiers all over the fields in October, and I heard many people expressing pity about the situation,” another source said, noting that the military was far short of the food rations they needed for the year.
That’s why a source told the Daily NK that in Ryanggang Province, the military was “giving soldiers 2 to 3 months leave to gather food. Even small private plots near military installations have performed poorly, so some officers are sending their families to sell their livestock in the market.”
On paper, North Korea has one of the biggest militaries in the world, with 13,000,000 manpower available and 10,100,000 fit for service, according to Global Firepower.
And, while the hermit dictatorship is very good at showing that numerical power off via risible parades, the problem lies within the resources necessary to maintain that military as an elite fighting force.
It’s no secret that North Korea’s military hardware — planes, tanks, submarines, things like that — are all superannuated and could be easily overpowered by anything even slightly modern. Their troops, while dedicated to their Dear Leader, aren’t exactly well-fed to begin with, and sanctions can’t be helping.
A report last year revealed that officers in the North Korean military were ordering troops to steal corn from the fields because their rations were so small, according to the U.K. Telegraph.
“The military officers are instructing their soldiers, exhausted after training, to eat corn in the fields because war is imminent,” a source said.
Even then, though, they weren’t being given leave to forage for food. No such luck now.
So, for those of you on active duty, reading this and dreading your pre-dawn workout tomorrow, consider the bright side: you could be living in a country where military “leave” involves foraging for food to stay alive.
H/T Fox News
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