North Koreans preparing for flooding flowing predictions that the country would experience a large amount of rainfall on June 28. (Rodong Sinmun-News1)

North Korea’s Guard Command recently dismissed and punished the commander and political commissar of a military unit that was unprepared to repair storm damage, Daily NK has learned.

A source in the North Korean military told Daily NK on Wednesday that the Guard Command reached that decision in a meeting of its central politburo on June 26. The politburo found the brigade commander and political commissar of the 115th Construction Brigade completely responsible for failing to keep the unit ready to repair damage from flooding and monsoon rains.

The 115th Construction Brigade, which is part of the Guard Command, is responsible for repairing “No. 1 roads” — roads exclusively used by the North Korean leader — and the farms, factories and other buildings in the vicinity.

After a weather forecast that the monsoon would bring heavy rain throughout North Korea, the Guard Command instructed the 115th Brigade to carry out emergency repairs on roads leading to headquarters and to villas in each area as a precaution against storm damage.

But even after receiving this order, the 115th Brigade did not send enough workers to the sites, the source said.

“The brigade was ordered to dispatch special detachments because preventing damage to special areas under the jurisdiction of the Guard Command is the purpose of its construction units. But the brigade could not immediately dispatch the special detachments since many of its soldiers are suffering from malnutrition or tuberculosis or are at home to recuperate. The Guard Command learned about that just when work was urgently needed to minimize storm damage, which is why it dealt with this matter severely,” the source explained.

The Guard Command punished the 115th Brigade’s commanding officer for his responsibility in what it regarded as the complete degradation of the brigade’s fighting ability, especially since it was unable to dispatch repair workers even after roadside trees were felled and flooding occurred on roads leading to certain villas in North Pyongan Province, the source said.

The source further reported that the Guard Command’s central politburo was sharply critical of the brigade commander and political commissar. Brigade discipline must have been atrocious if soldiers were unprepared to be swiftly deployed to the scene at a given time, the politburo said, adding that the report that half of the brigade’s personnel were infirm was a disgrace to the Guard Command.

The worst part, according to the politburo, was that failing to swiftly repair roads leading to the villas made it impossible to escort the supreme leader at his request, which was ultimately a fatal flaw in the Guard Command’s revolutionary mission of protecting the North Korean leadership.

But some in North Korea attribute the depletion of the 115th Brigade’s fighting ability to the military’s failure to provide needed supplies.

“While the 115th Brigade is nominally part of the Guard Command, its members are little better than manual laborers who do the grunt work in the field with rudimentary equipment. Despite that, they are more poorly supplied than ordinary military units. As a result, they’re weak and malnourished, with emaciated limbs that look as spindly as the legs of flies or mosquitos,” the source said.

“Statistics also show that 80% of all the deaths in the Guard Command occurred in the 115th Brigade,” the source continued, adding, “But the Guard Command’s central politburo emphasized that it was appropriate for the brigade commander and political commissars to be held responsible and punished and that such a conclusion was reasonable.”

After learning about conditions in the 115th Brigade, the Guard Command reportedly ordered that the brigade’s infirm soldiers be treated and cared for at hospitals and nursing homes instead of being sent to repair storm damage. The Guard Command also ordered its headquarters to immediately deal with issues relating to soldiers’ health and logistics.

Thanks to those orders, which are part of the Guard Command’s attempt to repair its tarnished reputation, all the soldiers from the 115th Brigade who had been recuperating at home will receive treatment at the Guard Command’s hospitals and nursing homes, the source added.

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler.

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

Read in Korean