A woman in Chongjin was shocked to learn recently that her son, a soldier in North Korea’s Supreme Guard Command – a unit that provides security for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – had been killed in action.

According to a Daily NK source in the country, the authorities have failed to explain the cause of death or even provide the location of the buried body to the woman. 

“In early July, [the woman] suddenly received the news that her only son had been killed in action while serving in the Supreme Guard Command. She lives alone and has yet to recover from the shock,” the source, who is based in North Hamgyong Province, told Daily NK on July 30.

According to the source, officials from North Hamgyong Province’s Party Committee and the Supreme Guard Command visited the woman and told her that her son had died an “heroic death” in mid-March while defending the Supreme Leader (Kim Jong Un) and that his body had been laid to rest near his military base.

The source said that soldiers who accompanied the officials took out several boxes of goods from the vehicle they had arrived in and offered them to the woman as “gifts from the Supreme Leader.” The boxes contained food, blankets and various “manufactured goods.” 

The woman reportedly fainted on the spot upon hearing the news, according to the source. After regaining consciousness, she begged the officials to reveal the exact location where her son was buried, but they refused to say.

The mother also demanded to know the exact circumstances that had caused her son’s death, speculating that he may have contracted COVID-19. She insisted on knowing what had happened given that there must have been some sort of incident if her son had been “killed in action” while “defending” the Supreme Leader. 

When the Supreme Guard Command officials simply repeated that the military required secrecy on such matters, the woman reportedly became even angrier, arguing there was no such thing as a death without a cause and asserting that she “could not accept” the news. 

The following day, the woman visited the grave of her late husband in the mountains in a hysterical state, wailing: “Our beloved son has died, so what is the point in living? I want to die, too.” She was later “forcibly” taken back down the mountain by local residents, according to the source. 

Locals who heard about the woman’s story think it is “absurd” how the authorities handled her son’s death, the source further reported. 

“Even in times of peace there are a lot of deaths in the military, so people feel they cannot trust the state and are afraid to send their sons to the military,” the source said.

“They feel heartbroken whenever an incident like this occurs. Some believe that unexplained military deaths speak volumes about the realities of this country and even express hatred towards the government for being so heartless as to ignore the requests of heartbroken families who just want to know where their loved ones are buried,” he added. 

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Kim Yoo Jin is one of Daily NK's freelance journalists. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.