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Academy of National Defense Science researchers unhappy with poor living conditions

Researchers at the Academy of National Defense Science, a critical agency in North Korea’s accelerating satellite and weapons development efforts, are increasingly unhappy with their plight due to meager wages and poor treatment.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK last Wednesday that researchers in the agency “recently complained that the failure of the satellite launch was not due to technical problems but to the mistreatment of the researchers directly responsible for the launch.”

The complaints suggest that researchers at the Academy of National Defense Science suffer from low morale due to their poor treatment. Their poor treatment may affect the agency’s ability to conduct research and technological development.

While the researchers receive salaries, food rations and holiday provisions for themselves and their families, even that is not enough for families to live on, according to the source.

For example, one researcher at the agency – a man in his 50s, identified as “A,” with a wife and two children – receives an average of 18 kilograms of rations per month for himself, or 600 grams per day. Meanwhile, his family receives less than 30 kilograms of food per month.

The man earns an average of KPW 300,000 per month, but after taxes, gifts and other expenses, he takes home a little more than KPW 200,000. However, he has virtually no money left over because he has to spend what he has to cover the family’s shortfalls in rice and other food.

“Given the mistreatment of the researchers, it was a miracle to get a rocket into the sky, regardless of its capabilities,” the source claimed. “There are growing complaints that they are no more than slave labor.”

Some researchers are forced to live with relatives due to lack of housing

The more serious problem facing the researchers is living quarters, the source said. Another researcher at the Academy of National Defense Science – a man in his 40s identified as “B” – has been living in a single room at his in-laws’ house for more than a decade because he has yet to be assigned an apartment.

“Researchers never have a chance to get a house because academy officials above the rank of section chief have priority in house allocation. The new house allocated to our department this year went to the section chief, while the researchers did not even get a single house,” “B” complained. “All [the authorities] care about is research results. No one listens to us about the difficulties of our families.”

Young researchers at the Academy of National Defense Science are also facing difficult living conditions.

“Many people in the technical team are in their 30s and 40s, and serve as ordinary researchers after joining the academy fresh out of university,” the source said. “Since most of them aren’t party members, they remain simple researchers even as they grow older, and they receive the worst treatment because their salaries, rations, and vacation arrangements are determined by their rank,” the source said.

“Academy officials above the rank of section chief are usually appointed to their positions from above, usually discharged soldiers with university degrees, or people who have secured their places with their connections or money,” he said. “In the end, the young researchers who make up the bulk of the research team simply focus on research, while the officials above the rank of section chief monopolize the major provisions and housing.

“Even if the young researchers produce results, all they get is a single commendation, while the officials above the rank of section chief take all the real benefits such as housing allotments or material supplies. I don’t think many researchers would dedicate themselves to research just to get an empty piece of paper.”

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

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Read in Korean

June 24, 2024 at 08:00AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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