Facing the end of their deployment, the Storm Trooper Units in North Hamkyung Province and elsewhere across the Sino-North Korean border have reportedly bent to the lure of self-enrichment, according to sources.
Storm Troopers who were previously even competitive as to who could crack down the hardest are now seeking out the same smugglers they once attempted to control, much to the wry amusement of local people.
A Yangkang Province source who spoke with The Daily NK this morning explained, “The Storm Troopers colors have been revealed in the final phase of the investigation. Once merciless and cold-blooded, they are secretly going to the homes of smugglers along the Amrok (Yalu) River at night to get bribes.”
According to sources from Onsung and Saebyeol in North Hamkyung Province and Hyesan in Yangkang Province, the Storm Troopers are now engaged in a phased withdrawal from most areas.
One such source explained, “Prior to their withdrawal, military officials are going to smugglers they have met in the course of their duties to request stuff like watermelon and other fruit, candies and sweets or to order children’s clothes and shoes.” Soldiers are also apparently requesting innerwear and watches, away from the watching eyes of cadres.
With only one week left before the traditional Chuseok (Korean ‘Thanksgiving’) holiday, soldiers about to finish their tasks and return to base appear to be obtaining from smugglers the things they need for their Chuseok festivities.
Ordinary people are hardly surprised by this, though, and many recall the old Korean proverb, “For the downstream water to be clean, the upstream water must also be clean.”
“The inspecting officers and other soldiers are obstinately demanding bribes while the people openly complain and swear at them,” the source said, adding, “Older traders say, ‘We thought these would be clean guys without an eye for a bribe, faithful to the Party, but they are all the same. If these are the chosen few, then the state of this country’s military is no surprise.”
Commenting on the situation, one defector The Daily NK spoke to noted, “Kim Jong Eun might as well just make more anti-socialists. North Korea’s inspections just teach people to ignore the laws of the land.”
North Korea has for many years been a place of many inspections and crackdowns, both from the security forces and from the Party. However, every time there is a crackdown of some kind, shortly before it is due to end and those charged with carrying it out are to leave, they set about making sure they have something to show for their effort, just as is happening now.