Starving North Korean soldiers are being given months of military leave in order to find food, according to reports.
The Hermit Kingdom has been reportedly hit with a poor harvest after a dry season, which has left the government with depleted food stores. Officials aren’t providing their soldiers with enough food rations, which is causing some officers to allow soldiers leave to forage for food.
A photo published by the DailyNK, a Seoul-based news site that covers North Korea through a system of informants, shows a group of North Korean soldiers foraging in a cornfield.
"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,” one informant told DailyNK in the northern province of Ryanggang.
Officers have been seen "giving soldiers 2 to 3 months leave to gather food.”
According to another source, "Border military forces have been given time off to go home and collect food to bring back. There were soldiers all over the fields in October, and I heard many people expressing pity about the situation," she said.
Although the government prioritizes the military and police when it hands out food rations, they have apparently been unable to provide sufficient food for their employees in the past month. The military is “well short” of its current food rations, according to DailyNK.
“Even though the price of rice hasn't changed much in the markets, people are especially worried that the effects of international sanctions will continue to mount and soon cause even more problems,” said an informant.
Two North Korean soldiers have defected to the South in as many months, with one being shot multiple times before being dragged across the demilitarized zone by a brave South Korean soldier.
Another soldier was found to have anthrax antibodies in his bloodstream - an indicator that the North has access to the deadly bacteria - and also a stomach full of parasites. One of those parasites measured 11 inches long when it was removed by South Korean doctors.