“We are Sorry to Say We Hate the Military”

[imText1] Originally, North Korea celebrated February 8th as the “Chosun People’s Military Day,” which is the day North Korea founded its military. However, in 1978, the date changed to April 25th, with Kim Jong Il’s command, to instead celebrate the day Kim Il Sung founded “Chosun People’s Revolution Army” in 1932, April 25 in Antu, Manchuria in Jilin, China.

On this day, all the military units not only in Pyongyang but across the nation hold festivals. Especially since the government is presently known for its “military first politics,” the celebration may be more significant than before. However, the hatred toward the military from the factories, state enterprises, and cooperative farms accumulate as the April 25 comes ahead. There is a reason for that.

Commander Orders to Loot Civilian Food

The factories, state enterprises and cooperative farms become extremely nervous when the date April 25 nears. This is because military looting or robbery in the social organs and state enterprises increase more than any other time. The most targeted are the cooperative farms. Since the government’s runs the “military first policy,” the military is prioritized in all cases and the military themselves seem to think there is nothing “Kim Jong Il military” cannot do.

InApril, the cooperative farms put out grain seeds for seeding, which have been kept all winter long in the storages. In the farms, all sorts of green vegetables such as scallions and cabbages grow. The military takes them for their use any time as much as they want. The people become nervous. Not only those people who farm, but who also raise animals become nervous. They do not know when the military will take them.

The kind of looting varies and number of robbery increases as the date nears. It is not few soldiers stealing food but the military units are involved and the commands come from the military leaders. The commands usually specifically dictate each soldier to do what, for example, soldiers of certain unit must bring certain amount of bean from XX farm and other soldiers must steal some scallions from AA farm. The reason for it is to eat well and celebrate the “Chosun People’s Military Foundation Day” to make it a more significant day.

The Military Leaders are Also Poor

Although the military leaders command the soldiers, they tell them to steal but never get caught or reveal the name of the unit. If any problem occurs, the incident will be labeled to have aggravated the military-civilian relations and will possibly cause punishment from headquarters.
The leaders of the units must feel frustrated. The celebration only takes place once a year and they would hate to see their soldiers starve on the “Military Foundation Day.” However, the government distributes too little to feed all the soldiers. The soldiers with the commands do more than simple robbery. They take wooden clubs and beat up the guards at the cooperative farms and the loot the food.

Military looting is nothing new. It has been an old practice. I experienced it myself April 1986. It was only few days to April 25. Our group spend a night at the house of the cooperative technical leader’s house in the Ryongchun-ri Cooperative Farm in Bongchun-gun, South Hwanghe province. We complimented on the scallion farm in front of his house. Then the technical leader replied us, “It does not matter how well the farming is done. The military will take them all…”

As if to prove his remarks, around the mid night that day we all woke up hearing the dogs barking so loud. We all ran out to the front yard. Then we heard a voice from the farm, “If you come close, we will kill you all!” I could see faintly there were about ten soldiers pulling out the scallions and putting them into the bags.

We yelled, “how could military steal people’s food,” but there was nothing more we could do. The farm guards shivered and watched the soldiers stealing the food. They said they could not do anything about it.

Military As Rot As They Can Be

It has been twenty years since I experienced such an incident. It would have been worse during the food crisis in the mid 1990s. When Kim Jong Il visits the military, the military leaders use all means they can to fill the food storages. Just for the day of Kim Jong Il’s visit, they try to show off so they will not lose their positions. For this reason, Kim Jong Il would not know the reality of the low rank military units. The low rank soldiers are as rot (poor) as they can be.

Probably in Pyongyang, they will once again shout “The Proud Military First Politics” and “The Laudable Custom of the Military-Civilian Relations” as usual. However, the people’s hatred toward the military is increasing as the days go by. The people’s hearts left the Chosun People’s Military long ago. Would Kim Jong Il ever know this?

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