Civilians in Standoff with Soldiers in Pyongsong

In the run up to todays anniversary of the
founding of the Chosun Peoples Army, Rodong Sinmun,
the daily publication of the ruling Workers Party, heavily promoted
the importance of solidarity between the countrys revolutionary
armed forces and its citizenry. 

However, a Daily NK source from North Pyongan Province has
reported a very different atmosphere on the ground. There, ill-supplied
soldiers dispatched to a state construction project are in a de facto standoff
with civilians over access to food.

The state has dispatched soldiers from a total of three
units to work on the construction of Satellite Scientists
Street in Pyongsong, to the north of Pyongyang. However, the food the soldiers
receive from the state is insufficient for the labor they are doing, and so
raids on civilian food stocks are becoming more and more common.

The source told Daily NK on the 25th, Loads
of soldier-builders have gone to Unjong Science District, the area where
Satellite Scientists Street is under construction. Its
really busy now, and even though its far from downtown
[Pyongsong], there are more soldiers than traders in the jangmadang there.

In January, Kim Jong Eun visited the DPRK State Academy of
Sciences, which is in the same area. There, he ordered the construction of a
complex of modern residences for scientists and technical staff along the same
lines as Pyongyang Unha Scientists Street. The project deadline is October 10th,
the anniversary of the founding of the Chosun Workers
Party. A groundbreaking ceremony, incorporating a military rally, was held
at the Academy of Sciences on March 5th.

In contrast with the times when
they are on-base, these soldier-builders are getting their food rations on
time, the source acknowledged. But they are still
hungry, and have been selling their work boots, which they only just got, to
buy food. 

The boots, which are more durable than their privately
produced equivalent, sell very well. The military boots sell
for 40,000 won in the jangmadang, whereas 8.3
boots [privately made] cost 18,000 won,
the source explained, thus illustrating the gulf in quality between the two
products.

However, she added that money earned in this way is
insufficient to solve a soldiers food security problems
permanently; therefore, instances of food theft from private homes is now
commonplace. Local residents are moving to defend their property in response,
leading to a standoff far from the idealized vision of civilian-military
relations on display in Rodong Sinmun.

All the homes in the area around
the construction site are reinforcing their front doors with metal,
she alleged, “and this has driven up the price of the metal from $60 to
$110.

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