Although tensions between the United States and North Korea have eased to a simmer, economic sanctions put in place as a result of the nation’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and a reliable means to deliver them to distant targets remain in place. North Korea’s aggressive and isolationist approach to foreign relations has always resulted in a stagnate economy and food shortages, but it would seem the international sanctions put in place due to Kim Jong-un’s belligerent regime may be pushing soldiers in the nation’s military to extremes in order to survive.
According to unnamed North Korean sources who spoke to Radio Free Asia, the country’s rural residents are increasingly reporting that their homes and farms are being looted by desperate North Korean soldiers. These accounts come on the heels of previous reports in international media of soldiers being granted months of leave in order to scavenge for food.
An increasing number of soldiers are breaking into civilian homes recently,” said the source, who reportedly lives in North Korea’s Kangwon province. “They are in the middle of the winter training period, where they have strict rules to keep, but soldiers are able to sneak out at night when their superiors are not watching and break into homes or threshing floors at farms.”
In late 2017, a North Korean soldier identified as Oh Chong Song was shot five times as he made his break for South Korean territory. When he was recovered and brought to a South Korean hospital for treatment, doctors found only hard corn kernels and massive parasitic infections in his stomach. Troops stationed at the DMZ dividing North and South Korea traditionally receive the best equipment and rations, suggesting that troops stationed elsewhere in the nation must have already been suffering extremely difficult conditions.