North Korea has dramatically raised the intensity of its military training, including exercises aimed at testing the combat capabilities of paramilitary Worker-Peasant Red Guard (WPRG) units that were recently called up for winter training.
At the start of every December, North Korea mobilizes its regular army and reserve forces to conduct war readiness winter training. The WPRG is one of North Korea’s key paramilitary forces.
“Going beyond simply holding defensive positions or bivouacking, the WPRG units that participated in this year’s winter exercises are being split into two groups to simulate a real war,” a source from North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK recently.
“The WPRG is evaluating how well each member can hold up in combat. They are instructing everyone to complete all the drills without any mistakes,” the source added.
The training this year is markedly different from last year’s drills, which were largely for show.
According to sources, the WPRG recently replaced its platoon leaders and company officers with younger successors from the regular army in keeping with the orders to enhance their combat abilities.
The training includes army crawls, semaphore training, and the disassembly and reassembly of automatic rifles and pistols. Bivouac training was also conducted in cold weather conditions.
“Army crawl training is usually carried out in a corn field that has been chopped down with scythes,” a source told Daily NK. “The stumps sometimes rip the clothes of WPRG soldiers and dig into their shoes, which has led to some severe injuries.”
Those injured during the paramilitary exercises are reportedly being made to resume training after receiving medical treatment.
Trainees are ordered to complete disassembly and reassembly of rifles and pistols in under a minute, and everyone is expected to pass semaphore training, according to the source.
The source also said that WPRG members with poor performance are being physically punished.
“If you do poorly during training, the officers will kick and swear at you and pressure you to perform better,” said the source.
*Translated by Violet Kim
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