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Five former soldiers in Yanggang Province complain to authorities about poverty

A group of discharged soldiers on assignment in Yanggang Province’s Taehongdan County recently complained to the provincial people’s committee about their economic difficulties and asked for permission to return to their hometowns. In an attempt to patch up the situation, the committee chair personally visited the homes of the veterans to apologize.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, a source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Friday that five discharged soldiers who had been assigned to a collective farm in Taehongdan County last year had sent a letter of complaint to the provincial people’s committee.

“Two days after the New Year’s holiday, the committee chair paid a personal visit to the homes of the five veterans and made an apology,” he said. 

According to the source, the five veterans had been part of the same unit and were given a mandatory work assignment in Taehongdan County after completing their military service last year.

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The five veterans had gotten married with the province’s help and seemed to be settling down in their new homes. But when the temperature plummeted this past December, they found themselves without any decent heating and faced a grave shortage of necessities, including firewood, food, and clothing.

The only annual rations given to the five veterans when they were assigned to Taehongdan County were 10 kilograms of potato starch and 130 kilograms of potatoes – 30 kilograms of which were rotten. They also received none of the napa cabbage or white radishes needed to make kimchi, a staple of Korean cuisine that is expected to last for six months.

Faced with these difficult circumstances, the new wives of the five veterans all returned to their own homes and informed their husbands in writing that they would not be returning home and wanted a quick divorce.

The five veterans could not leave Taehongdan County themselves for fear of being stigmatized. Finally, they put their heads together and wrote a letter to the provincial People’s Committee describing their grievances and asking for help.

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After detailing their plight, the five veterans wrote: “Although we realize that this is a historical city that bears the traces of the illustrious figures of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un, we simply don’t know how to get around here. If we are allowed to leave with only the personal belongings we had when we left the army, we will return to our hometowns and won’t cause any more trouble.” Each of the veterans added his signature to the end of the letter.

Soon the letter found its way to the chairman of the Yanggang Provincial People’s Committee. Terrified at the prospect of the five veterans’ plight being brought to the attention of Party headquarters, the committee chairman went directly to Taehongdan County to visit their homes.

“The chairman found the five veterans barely scraping by, unable even to work in their freezing houses with no firewood and nothing to eat but a few potatoes. The chairman apologized to them, blaming their situation on officials’ disinterest in the living conditions of discharged soldiers on group assignments, and ordered that the living conditions of the five veterans be improved,” the source said.

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler.

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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.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

January 15, 2024 at 10:30AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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