The North Korean authorities are continuing to give out mixed messages, trying to keep tensions high externally while at the same time bringing domestic reserve mobilization to an end and preparing for the farming season.
According to Daily NK sources, the relaxation of tensions really began in earnest with the Party Central Committee plenum at the end of last month. At the time of writing, all reserve forces have been sent back to their places of work and the annual drive to gather manure for biological fertilizer is well underway.
A Chongjin source told Daily NK on the 8th, “The reserves who had been mobilized for combat exercises over the past few months all returned their weapons to their local Ministry of People’s Safety (the police) office arms store on the 1st and went back to work. Having carried out public and enterprise rallies in accordance with decisions made at the Party Central Committee plenum last month, each province, county and city is now working on producing fertilizer.”
The source added, “Until last month there were Worker and Peasant Red Guards and other reserves on the streets, all in uniform with their backpacks and guns, but now there are only workers with shovels and hoes, mobilized to produce manure for the farms. Even those soldiers who were living underground in the mountains have returned to normal life in the barracks.”
In other words, the wartime atmosphere has disappeared inside North Korea, the source said; rather, there are now vehicles going around proclaiming slogans related to economic construction. “Posters about war have been replaced with posters about the economy or slogans about this or that ‘March Party Central Committee decision’,” he said.
Of course, the source noted, “If the military exercises had gone on any longer then there could have been big problems with the mass mobilization of people to prepare for the farming year."
"The people were really tired from the combat exercises, and say they are even more tired now they have to farm as well," he added. “Some have complained that the authorities knew very well that a war would not occur but let them go through all that hassle anyway."
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