N. Korean reservists take part in prep for winter military drills

Sources report that authorities prepared "heart stimulants" to help reservists finish the training

North Korea’s regular winter military drills began on Dec. 1, but reservists in North Hamgyong Province recently had to take part in a high-intensity “advance drill,” Daily NK has learned.

“On Nov. 25, the provincial government ordered reservists in the Hoeryong, Kyunghung, Kyungsong areas, including local Worker-Peasant Red Guard units, to take part in a training aimed at preparing them for the winter military drills,” a North Hamgyong Province source told Daily NK on Friday. “The drills were intense, resembling a real combat setting.”


Daily NK sources said that air raid sirens blared at 11 PM on Nov. 25 to start the drill for regular reservists. At 12 AM another air raid siren went off to start the drill for Worker-Peasant Red Guards.

Generally, such drills are organized by organizations affiliated with the Workers’ Party of Korea, but this drill was held abruptly without a previous announcement to reservists, Daily NK sources reported. 

The reservists and Worker-Peasant Red Guards assembled in full training uniform, fully prepared, and immediately proceeded to march with five-kilogram sandbags strapped to their legs.

“These training exercises proceeded very differently from other drills in the past, and the reservists who had to train with five-kilogram sandbags strapped to their legs said that the drill was unimaginably difficult,” one source told Daily NK.


Daily NK sources also reported that North Korean authorities knew that the drills would be physically strenuous for many of the reservists and had purchased heart stimulants in bulk. Reservists who failed to walk properly or had issues breathing were given the drugs so they could reach the end of the drill. 

“The drill ended after seven hours. Many of the reservists collapsed at the finish point,” one source said. “Reservists said that the training was harder than what normal soldiers have to go through and many thought they would die because it was so hard.” 

“North Koreans in the province are complaining about the unexpected nature of the drill and are wondering how they’ll survive the winter military drills,” the source added. 

Sources said that most of the reservists returned home in a severely weakened condition and could not get up for some time.

Some called in sick the next day because of their fatigued condition, one source added.

*Translated by Violet Kim

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

Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.