Despite drought conditions and a poor harvest, the North Korean government is demanding farmers fulfill a mandatory quota for military provisions.
When farmers couldn’t meet the impossible demands, the military sent soldiers into fields and homes to look for food.
“Officials carried out home searches in Paekam County to determine how much food some families had,” a source told Daily NK. “As an excuse to enter and demand bribes, they said to the residents, ‘Are we just going to let our military starve while the Americans lick their lips and prepare to eat us alive?”
Daily NK is a Seoul-based website that publishes information about North Korea through a network of informants.
“All individuals who weren’t able to meet the demands have been receiving additional assignments since the very beginning of January,” said another source. In years past, farmers were given one month of leave to earn money for the purchase of farm equipment. This time, that money is being used to find food and other items for the military. “This year, we have to postpone our farm work due to this ‘extremely urgent’ task of gathering food for the military.”
North Korean residents say they are not surprised by the government’s impossible demands, but that it is a new tactic for soldiers to ransack homes to collect food.
“The officers know better than anyone that they must feed their soldiers in order to maintain morale, and that rations of cornmeal with very few calories only serve to instill disillusionment among them,” another source told Daily NK.
The Kim regime has long been criticized for spending its money on nuclear missile development despite widespread malnutrition.
“It’s an unacceptable outcome that Kim is making that choice, and we’re not going to take any responsibility for the fact that he’s choosing to make his own people suffer,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last week.
The sanctions enacted in response to Kim’s missile tests have exacerbated food shortages, and have made it nearly impossible for aid groups to get into the country.
If the food shortage reaches the military (which it seems to have already done), Kim’s hold on the country could become very unstable. This could create the perfect environment for a coup, but it could also drive Kim to the breaking point.
Extreme pressure from sanctions is likely the reason North Korea decided to participate in the PyeongChang Olympics.
“This whole Olympics participation by North Korea…it is in a sense a Trojan Horse,” Asia expert Gordon Chang told Fox News. “The North Koreans are trying to use the Olympics to create a sort of pro-North Korean feeling in South Korea. They want money from Seoul. They also want Seoul to move away from Washington.”
Not only will North Korea march alongside its southern counterpart in the opening ceremony, but it will also (for the first time ever) field a joint team with South Korea.
The team – in women’s ice hockey – has become a giant headache for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who campaigned on a promise to improve relations with the North. As much as 70% of South Korea is opposed to the team, mainly over arguments that South Korean athletes were pushed out to make room for North Korean participants.
Editor’s note: It is hard to know the problem in any detail, but this could be a countdown to major change in North Korea. If Trump knows enough detail to make a prediction, it greatly enhances his ability to negotiate.