North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recently ordered military units to establish convalescent hospitals to treat soldiers suffering from malnutrition, Daily NK has learned. Efforts to set up the hospitals throughout the military are currently ongoing, based on a report from within the military.

A Daily NK source in the North Korean military reported yesterday that the move to establish the hospitals came after the Ministry of Defense’s logistics department and military medical department wrote a joint report about the state of malnutrition in each unit of the military during the winter military exercise period.

The report pointed out that many soldiers failed to take part in the exercises because of poor nutrition, and proposed the establishment of convalescent hospitals as a way to counter the problem.

Final approval for the proposal came down from the leadership and, starting on May 11, military authorities began preparations to establish the hospitals – from gathering and acquiring materials and setting up supply chains to designating structures to be used for the new facilities. Currently, the military is placing soldiers in need of treatment into the facilities.

North Korean soldiers
North Korean soldiers seen walking near Namyang, North Hamgyong Province. / Image: Daily NK

The heads of these new facilities are political officers attached to each military unit. These officers have been designated the heads of the hospitals because Kim Jong Un reportedly commented that “The Korean People’s Army can only protect the country if they eat enough. Party committees and political officers in each military corps and supreme military command headquarters must take responsibility to fix this problem.”

Political officers are also charged with resolving the military’s food supply problems. According to the source, “the families of political officers are taking turns supplying rabbits, pigs, lambs and chickens raised at home to the soldiers [for food].”

The source also noted that political officers are expected to take care of the soldiers under their charge even after the military’s food problems get better.

Some relatives of these political officers are complaining that the task of beating beat back malnutrition is being “completely thrown at our feet,” and are expressing frustration that they have to give away animals that they could instead sell for money.

Perhaps in consideration of such complaints, the military’s General Political Bureau has announced it will conduct evaluations of how well each unit beats back malnutrition by Oct. 10 (the day commemorating the founding of the Worker’s Party of Korea).

Daily NK’s source said there are already military units that have received punishment for failing to lower malnutrition rates. The commanders of logistics units at the First Corps, Second Corps, and Fifth Corps, along with other logistics officers at military training facilities, have been removed from their positions as punishment.

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