Ahead of annual winter military drills in December, the North Korean authorities have launched an active loyalty education campaign within the military, a move seen as part of efforts to strengthen Kim Jong Eun’s position as the “Military-first successor.”
A Daily NK source reported the news this morning, the 19th, explaining that Kim Jong Il handed down an order to military Party organs in the name of the “Supreme Commander of the Chosun People’s Army” on the 10th, under which “Chosun People’s Army soldiers must become a military of steel of which the whole world is scared.” Accordingly, intensive meetings of Party organs and the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League of the military were held for three days starting on the 11th.
All North Korean soldiers are politically and ideologically indoctrinated by the Party on a systematic basis. That is, a pyramid of coalition committees, Party committees and primary Party committees control and manage divisions, regiments and battalions respectively. A coalition committee consists of three or four Party committees and two or three primary Party committees form each Party committee.
In one section of the order on “strengthening political lessons” there are two demands, the source explained: to teach soldiers to “devote our youth according to the high will of the Comrade Youth Captain!”; and to prepare them to be soldiers of the Military-first era who will risk their lives in all circumstances fighting for the Supreme Commander.
In another section on “military technology,” there are also two items: regarding training soldiers as masters of mountain warfare by enhancing winter field maneuvers and skiing drills; and strengthening professional drills for special soldiers dealing with chemical weapons and military engineers.
The source added that through the order they emphasized, “The enemy is scared of winter. They need to concentrate on drills to make preparations for winter battles and should become a model to implement the orders of the Supreme Command with the awareness that a soldier’s body is not the individual’s but belongs to the fatherland.”
He said, “In each meeting, there was a lecture about how ‘Comrade Youth Captain watches us always,’ and participants vowed, ‘we must respect Comrade Youth Captain Kim Jong Eun with arms.’”
However, the source described the atmosphere among soldiers, saying, “They just complain.” Soldiers worry about how they will spend this winter, what they will eat during the drill, and that the authorities always “request loyalty from soldiers without improving their living conditions.”
In North Korea, the winter drill for the regular army starts on December 1st and ends in late April of the next year, while paramilitary forces such as Local Reserve Forces and Worker and Peasant Red Guards hold drills for a month.