Monday, June 27, 2011

North Koreans Starving Who Aren't Supposed To Be

The general public of North Korea being malnourished is, unfortunately, not exactly front-page news. At least, it isn't in the sense that car crashes and cancer deaths aren't either. They are all tragic, but avoid the front page at least in part due to their all being common, and common knowledge.

However, as Mark Willacy of ABC (Australia) reports, new footage out of North Korea by a local journalist who managed to smuggle it out shows that the North Korean army is now starving as well. That is something to take note of.

After the Kims themselves, the army gets fed first. The army is how the Kims project their strength, impose their will. They are the people who stand guard at the borders. They are the people who run the day-to-day operations at the gulags. They are the people who watch for and crack down on any signs of dissent. As long as they're kept at least somewhat happy, the Kims can continue to conduct business as usual.

In fact, the promise of being fed regularly is a strong incentive to join the North Korean army in the first place.

That promise can seemingly no longer be upheld, and on Saturday, One Free Korea compiled and reviewed a growing body of consequences. According to One Free Korea, and the video reported on by Willacy, the army is now attempting to obtain their food from the black market that is the main food source for much of the general public, either through "donations" or outright looting. In addition, soldiers are now suffering from a lack of winter uniforms.

Most notably, to underscore just why some soldiers are soldiers at all, the lack of food is causing some to desert. That sets up a few important questions:

First, how weak can the army's constitution get, and how small can the army shrink, while still remaining a projective force, especially in the face of a transition of power between the Kims?

And second, is the rest of the world going to be able to bear to watch?

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