The North Korean regime has announced in messages to the international community that the country is prepared to go to war. However, to date, there have been no observable indicators that the country is on war footing. As the war of words between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continues, the atmosphere within the North has become more tense, but inside sources have not reported any special military movements or mandatory training for residents.
“After Kim Jong Un delivered a personal address on September 28, emergency lecture sessions and speeches were held to inspire national unity and alert us to the current situation, but there weren’t any noteworthy military movements,” an inside source from Ryanggang Province told Daily NK.
“The only major initiative we saw was mobilizing residents to participate in mass rallies. Aside from that, there were no special orders. The atmosphere is not one that would indicate preparations for war,” a Pyongyang source added.
In previous times of international tension, the North Korean authorities have sought to convey a warlike ambiance to the residents. Anxiety is stoked through provocative slogans like: “Foreigners could invade the country.” Anti-air raid training sessions were often conducted during such times, but actions during the present standoff have remained limited.
The sources noted that the lack of a stronger mobilization effort reflects the authorities’ concern about opposition from residents. Unlike in previous circumstances, North Korean residents are now able to access external information and so it has become harder for the authorities to impose measures that affect the residents’ ability to earn money in the markets by referring to exaggerated security threats.
“Oil prices are already unstable, so if the rice prices rise, critical opinions of the authorities’ nuclear and missile ‘games’ will undoubtedly increase. The authorities know this dynamic very well, and so they have been conducting lectures at night when the markets are closed,” the Ryanggang-based source said.
Some residents are becoming frustrated with the numerous mandatory lectures, commenting, “It’s such a hassle, I can hardly pay attention,” the Pyongyang-based source noted, adding that “most residents are exhausted enough putting food on the table, and they get bored by lectures on ‘the great contest against the Americans.'”
A considerable number are also directing criticisms at Kim Jong Un, saying that he is “even more obsessed with nuclear weapons and missiles than his dad (Kim Jong Il) and his grandfather (Kim Il Sung).”
Both sources added that many have realized that the funds required for missiles, nuclear weapons, and idolization efforts would be better spent on improving the lives of the residents.