Tags: North Korea | north korea | military | nuclear | weapons | buildup | soldiers

Defector: NKorea Military Buildup Continues as Soldiers Starve

By    |   Tuesday, 10 Mar 2015 07:06 PM

Although communist North Korea is a nuclear weapons state with one of the strongest militaries in the world, its soldiers live in squalor and poverty, according to an officer who recently defected.

The officer, a career military man in his 40s, escaped last fall and defected to South Korea. He said North Korean soldiers, including members of the country's elite special forces, have been forced to cope with severe food shortages, the Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday.

He said instability is growing in North Korea, a country which is poised to enhance its military might.

The nation, which is believed to have between 10 and 16 nuclear weapons, could have an arsenal as large as 100 such weapons by 2020, according to Joel Wit, senior fellow with the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, and noted nuclear expert David Albright.

In a less dire scenario, North Korea would increase its nuclear stockpile to about 20 weapons. This would include plutonium-based armaments which have been miniaturized and can be mounted on its Rodong-class medium-range ballistic missile which can reach Japan.

In a second, more likely scenario, Pyongyang continues its current pace and manages to produce 50 weapons by 2020.

All of this creates a potentially combustible mix: a communist nation armed to teeth with a growing nuclear arsenal while its people can barely feed themselves.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un "repeatedly states that he will improve the livelihood of ordinary people, but nothing has really changed," said the defector, who uses the pseudonym Kim Gil-su for security reasons.

Regarding starvation within the military, Kim said military officers are much better off than the general population and lower-ranking troops.

Lower-ranking soldiers are limited to meals of "corn rice"—ground corn fashioned into kernels of rice.

The troops "are very young and strong and are really energetic and require food," Kim told the Free Beacon's Bill Gertz. But their nutritional needs "are not met by the military."

As a result, he said, soldiers attempt to escape the military, while others resort to stealing food in order to survive.

"I buried seven people, my friends who starved to death," Kim said.

He added that the military, with 1.1 million active-duty troops and 800,000 reservists, faces chronic food shortages.

"They are in a very serious situation," he said.

Kim escaped North Korea last year by swimming across a river into China. He said was armed with a knife for the purpose of fending off attackers or committing suicide if he was cornered.

He called North Korea " a sick country with a nonsensical system."

While the communist regime calls North Korea "the happiest country in the world," the claim is "all lies," he said.

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Although communist North Korea is a nuclear weapons state with one of the strongest militaries in the world, its soldiers live in squalor and poverty, according to an officer who recently defected.
north korea, military, nuclear, weapons, buildup, soldiers, starve, defector
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2015-06-10
Tuesday, 10 Mar 2015 07:06 PM
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