North Korean military authorities recently handed down an order to soldiers and their families to raise more rabbits and, in an unprecedented move, included a specific number of rabbits each soldier and family should breed.

According to a military source in the country on June 7, the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces (MPAF) ordered that each soldier must breed “1.5 rabbits of at least 3.5 kilograms.” The order instructed the households of each soldier to “breed 15 rabbits” while stating that an “evaluation” of their progress in raising the rabbits would be held at an unspecified date before late August. 

Given that summer military drills began on July 1, the new order is expected to place a significant burden on soldiers. A company of 130 soldiers, for example, would have to breed at least 195 large rabbits in addition to participating in military drills. 

Indeed, since the order was handed down, soldiers have been tasked with expanding the number of rabbit cages, boosting rabbit numbers and obtaining rabbit food. All of this has eaten up much of their rest time. 

“Soldiers carry out their duties and training in the morning, then have to head into the hills to pick acacia leaves and clover for an hour before they can rest,” the source told Daily NK.

The families of soldiers, for their part, are already busily preparing food for a weekly holiday honoring soldiers (“The Day of the Soldier,” which is held on Sundays during the summer military drills period). The new order means they all have to find time to raise 15 rabbits. 

Meanwhile, the military’s internal politburo, the General Political Bureau (GPB), is intensifying efforts to paint the new order as a way to carry out North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s directive to raise more grass-eating animals (with the aim of inexpensively acquiring more meat to eat). 

rabbits
A document published by the GPB in July calling on soldiers to raise more rabbits. / Image: Daily NK

An article published in July (see image to the right) by the GPB featured news about a “rabbit breeding craze” and encouraged soldiers to proactively participate in breeding more rabbits. 

Daily NK’s source pointed out that the order to raise more rabbits has shown how poorly military units are supplied with food from the government. 

“Although [the authorities] have made a lot of noise about raising rabbits in the past, this is the first time they have given soldiers a specific number of rabbits to breed,” the source said. 

“The authorities seem to be subtly hinting that soldiers must find things to eat because they won’t get much food from the government,” he added.

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.