North Korean rocket troops disappointed by Kim Jong Un’s meager gifts

On August 18, Kim Jong Un conducted a much-publicized visit to the Korean People’s Army (KPA) Strategic Forces, the unit responsible for North Korea’s ballistic missile development and testing. However, some of the unit’s soldiers are reportedly expressing disappointment following the event, because some did not receive a customary gift, while others never saw him at all despite preparing excessively for the visit. 
“At the time of the visit, the Strategic Forces soldiers were cheering “Mansae!” [which means ‘Long live’]. Kim Jong Un gave the commanders various gifts, but the enlisted soldiers only received a carton of Taedok Mountain Cigarettes,” explained an inside source from South Pyongan Province on November 10.      
For field-grade soldiers, these are considered decent cigarettes, but it was still a disappointing outcome considering that the soldiers are chronically malnourished and were hoping for food. On August 15, the front page of the Party-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported on the visit, claiming, “The soldiers raised an enthusiastic cheer!” 
By way of comparison, Kim Jong Un also made an inspection visit to the Strategic Forces in March 2012. The gifts at that time were more plentiful, generating hope in the summer of 2017 that Kim Jong Un would come bearing similar generosity.  
“At that time [2012], the soldiers received Taedok Mountain Cigarettes, candy, snacks, chicken, seasoning, and more. The women received sanitary napkins and makeup. This time around, however, soldiers are feeling left out because the gifts to the commanders were reduced and some soldiers were excluded from the welcome ceremony,” the source said.
“To prepare for this single event in August, soldiers at the battalion level and below started sweeping and cleaning the headquarters from July. Everyone was busy. Commanders and technicians responsible for the testing of the Hwasong 14 missile were positioned in the middle of the crowd during the event.”  
“To ensure the success of the event, the soldiers worked as diligently as possible. Therefore, for those that couldn’t attend the event in the end, the cheering and clapping for Kim Jong Un only made them feel let down,” the source continued.
Other troops were also unable to attend the commemorative photo event, including soldiers from the radio battalion, the anti-aircraft battalion, medics, and soldiers dispatched for various duties off site. The source explained that the trip was an opportunity for Kim Jong Un to congratulate the team that launched the Hwasong 14 missile for their successful test.
Kim Jong Un previously visited the KPA strategic forces to congratulate them on a job well done. In March this year, Kim visited in celebration of the engine test for an intercontinental rocket. That engine was used in the North’s July 4th Hwasong 14 missile test.  
“Kim Jong Un hugged a Lieutenant Colonel [during his visit to the Strategic Forces] after the March test, who has since been labeled a national hero. He has also been promoted to chief of staff of the engineering division,” a source in North Pyongan Province added.
Kim Jong Un personally attended the March 18 test at North Pyongan Province’s Cholsan County Dongchari West Sea Launch Site. He praised the development of the intercontinental ballistic missile engine as a “great leap forward,” and as “an historic day that will not be forgotten.” 
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