North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently ordered the military to investigate and punish anyone involved in corruption, including the poor management and stealing of “war-time supplies,” Daily NK learned recently. 

The directive, called Order No. 00611, was handed down on May 9 by the Supreme Commander (Kim Jong Un) and instructed the military to increase penalties for various kinds of corruption, including the stealing of “daily rations” meant for ordinary soldiers, according to a Daily NK military source in the country on May 12. 

This order was issued in direct response to a May 4 report from the military’s General Staff Operations Bureau (GSOB) concerning the status of military supplies and war reserves for each military division.

The GSOB has reportedly conducted surprise investigations of military divisions throughout the country from last December until April of this year. Earlier this month, the GSOB’s 8th and 9th Departments (responsible for general administrative tasks and military exercises and drills, respectively) conducted investigations focused on finding irregularities in financial accounting.

Two major issues reportedly surfaced during these investigations. First, it was discovered that some units have failed to distribute supplies properly: there were, for example, shortages of basic necessities such as soap, toothpaste, clothes, and even food.

The source provided Daily NK with a specific case of suspected corruption uncovered during the investigation. When investigators compared the accounts and the actual supply of aircraft fuel at the storage unit for the First Air Force Unit under the Korean People’s Army Air and Anti-Air Force Command (located in Kaechon, South Pyongan Province) there was a discrepancy of more than five tons.

Second, investigators discovered that soldiers at the Fifth Corps and other military units were underfed (given just two meals a day consisting of corn noodles) during the military’s winter military exercises – although they were reportedly fed properly during the first month of the exercises in December. 

“The military authorities seem to have become acutely aware that the military is rife with corruption and that there isn’t enough food,” the source said. “That is why the Supreme Commander [Kim Jong Un] declared that the all members of the leadership of military units, including the general staff and members of the political and security-related departments, must fulfill their responsibilities to the fullest.” 

Kim’s sudden order has triggered anxiety among members of the country’s military. Mid-level officers are particularly worried because the order came at an unusual time: typically, such orders are handed down during military training periods. The worry is that punishments against military units and officers may not be far behind. 

On Apr. 24, Daily NK reported that in early April a team of investigators affiliated with the Supreme Command began a surprise investigation of military units throughout the country that revealed “vast” amounts of corruption. 

*Translated by Violet Kim

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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