[imText1]Presently the North Korean soldiers are under tremendous stress. It is due to the extension of the long term military service and murderous malnutrition.
Although in South Korea the military service is only two years long, in North Korea it is 10-13 years for men and 6-8 years for women. The reason why the length of the military service extended has to do with the problem of military maintenance and fighting capability. The number of regular military reaches up to 1.7 million. Plus it has 7milion soldiers it can call on in case of a war (including the Youth Alliance and Body Military), which makes it a nation with the most number of military soldiers.
When a person join the military they do something called, “military pledging.” They study to unconditionally obey to the higher rank officers and unmixable relationship of the military and the civilians. Before, the former red guards (who fought against the Japanese imperialism) used to lead the military force. However now that the former red guards pass away one after the other and due to the deterioration of the economy, there was little to be done to prevent weakening of the overall military force.
Taking Away Thirteen Years of the Younger Days
The youth, who are the reserve military has transformed into “simple human beings” due to the chronic hunger that they did not have chance to develop intellectually and during the mass starvation, many of them starved to death while they wondered around in search for food. They did not grow because they did not have enough to eat and most of them were discharged early even if they joined the military service due to the malnutrition.
The physical requirements for joining the military is height 148cm and 48kg. There many who cannot join the military because they do not meet the physical requirement. However, since they do not know when Kim Jong Il will start a war, they cannot neglect to maintain the military force. Furthermore, the new soldiers have difficulties managing military technical devises so they cannot help weakening of the military when there is a mass discharge of soldiers. In order to fill in such gaps, the government extended the military service three more years.
No Love Affairs During the Military Service
Another reason why the soldiers are stressing out also has to do with “biological nature” which the soldiers face as they become adults. They open their eyes towards the other sex while they are in the military service.
No love affairs are allowed during the military service. Kim Jong Il says, “When they love, they are overwhelmed with peaceful feelings that they become hesitant when the orders come down.” When a soldier has a love affair or impregnates a woman, he may be discharged for the “family reasons” but his life receives all sorts of restrictions from the system.
The second reason for their stress is the issue of joining the Worker’s Party.
The government of North Korea describes the military service as a sacred obligation and promises them to allow them to join the Worker’s Party after their military service. However, the government rarely keeps that promise so the soldiers facing their discharge stress out a lot. Although the situation changed a bit now but before people used to consider joining of the Worker’s Party as the highest honor. This is because that is how one’s future could be secured. To become government cadres joining the Worker’s Party is an important step to take. The government uses this in order to recruit more people to join the military.
However, it is practically impossible to allow all the soldiers to join the Party. For this reason the number of people allowed to join the Party annually decreased by a lot. The soldiers who have served the military for one decade but forced to go back home with empty hands feel despair upon facing their parents, and their possibility of marriage is low, so many kill themselves with their guns, sometimes kill the entire unit and there are many cases where soldiers escape from their services.
Even High Officials Can Become Targets
The third reason for their stress is the uncontrolled military rules.
The soldiers who have received harsh training from and beat up by the high officials relieve their stress to the lower rank soldiers or go to the civilian residents and commits crimes such as murder, incendiary, and rape.
The more of a serious problem is the physical abuse to the higher rank officials. There are many cases where the soldiers who served the military for long beat up higher rank officials when they are drunk.
This is what happened in June, 1995. Three soldiers from the 4,25 unit who were involved in the Keumgkang Mountain Power Plant construction, met up to drink to say goodbye few days before their discharge. They were friends from same middle school who each served in different units but they met for the first time in a long time. After drinking at a restaurant in an bright daylight, they walked out drunk and started harass ladies passing on the streets.
At this moment the general of 108 Compound stopped them and asked them, “Which unit do you belong to?” Then one of them with the sign of the highest among the ordinary soldiers stepped out and kicked him in his stomach saying, “You *** what are you to stop us?” The general fell down grabbing his stomach.
The three angry soldiers did not stop kicking the general. The general started to bleed and spit out blood. The three soldiers lavishly used their Taekwondo skills they learned in the military. How dare the ordinary soldiers beat up a general… I have never seen anything like that in my life.
By the time the three soldiers were arrested by the police, the general was barely surviving and the soldiers still had icy eyes. Later I heard that the soldiers received military trials and jailed in the military prison.
Relieving the stress of the soldiers is another one of serious problems the North Korean military is currently facing.