Soldiers behaving badly
Daily NK reported Friday on an unfortunate development involving discharged DPRK soldiers in Yanggang Province. Apparently, approximately 1,000 discharged soldiers have been dispatched to the "10.18 Cooperative Farm" in Baekam County. The process of dispatching soldiers to work on state projects after 10 years of military service is common. The problem in Yanggang appears to be that these soldiers have been stealing food and other goods from the local households. As spring is the lean season in North Korea, many of these households are already struggling for survival. Theft is only making matters worse.
While public outcry in the area is high, little is being done. The perception is that North Korean police in the area are wary of cracking down on the soldiers as they were dispatched to the region by Kim Jong Un. The police may rightly fear that such cracking down might be perceived as insubordination to the great leader. The report states that dispatched soldiers are given little to no control over where they are dispatched following military service. Outcomes like the above may be to be expected in this context. Sending thousands of still young individuals who have just completed 10 years of military service to work on a farm against their will sure sounds like a recipe for disaster.