A high-ranking military cadre was reportedly executed for the crime of criticizing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s recent “special order” to supply food to the people as “unrealistic.”

A source in North Korea told Daily NK on Wednesday the major general in charge of the logistics headquarters of Training Camp 815 was court-martialed and shot on July 18 after he criticized Kim’s special order as “an order ignorant of reality.”

Kim’s special order called for the release of military stores of rice for public distribution.

According to the source, people learned of the execution after the authorities sent a “notification” to military officers ranked department head and above. Sent on July 22, the notification detailed recent examples of “stern judgments.”

The notification said that after receiving the special order from the ruling party, the commander “indiscreetly” complained that “military granaries are facing more serious problems than the food [shortage] issue facing the people.” 

He also reportedly said: “If they’re going to squeeze us while remaining ignorant of the situation in lower-level rear areas, from where on earth are we going to produce all that rice, not sand from the river bed?” By criticizing Kim’s supposedly insufficient sense of reality, he basically became a “sectarian” in the view of the authorities.

North Korean soldiers in Sakju County, North Pyongan Province covid-19 facilities
North Korean soldiers in Sakju County, North Pyongan Province. / Image: Daily NK

By openly describing the events in the notification, the authorities apparently intend to spark fear and emphasize that “those who outright challenge party policy will receive no forgiveness, regardless of who they are.” It also suggests that the authorities want to set straight conspicuously flagging military discipline, even with military rice stores empty.

Relatedly, Kim — who belatedly learned how bad things were with military stores of rice after the June 29 enlarged meeting of the politburo — ordered the punishment of high-ranking cadres in charge, while simultaneously instructing the military’s Political Guidance Department and Military Security Command to inspect conditions in the low-level logistics units.

Moreover, by punishing cadres, Kim seemingly intends to turn attention away from his own loss of face in ordering “three months of food provisions” without first ascertaining the state of military food stocks. This means Kim plans to minimize risk by turning the situation into a political and ideological issue regarding the military’s logistics commanders.

There is talk of a “bloodbath” of purges and sackings in the name of “drawing out the ideological poison of military sectarianism.”

However, hostility is reportedly rising within the military regarding such merciless punishment.

Soldiers are reportedly asking how “shooting logistics commanders and sending officers to political prison camps” will resolve rice shortages, and whether leaders intend to label everyone “sectarians” every time there is a problem because they issued an order ignorant of the situation on the ground. 

Regarding the joint investigation by the military’s Political Guidance Department and Military Security Command, the source noted emerging criticism that stores of military supplies “have been empty since the time of Kim Jong Il” and “it’s a bigger problem that the government is starting to get a grip on conditions on the ground only now, 10 years after Kim Jong Un took power.”

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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Jeong Tae Joo is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. He focuses on North Korean military matters. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.