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N. Korean soldier’s desertion in Pyongyang causes major stir

The desertion of a soldier from a guard company at a Pyongyang university just a day before Kim Jong Il’s birthday celebration caused a serious stir, Daily NK has learned.

A source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on Tuesday that a soldier of the guard company at Kim Il Sung Military University deserted on Feb. 15, the eve of the Day of the Shining Star (Kim Jong Il’s birthday), out of dissatisfaction with his commanding officers.

The guard company commander, the political guidance officer and the squad commanders had given early leave to soldiers from well-to-do families in Pyongyang so that they could gather materials for two consecutive holidays (the Lunar New Year and the Day of the Shining Star). This gave the soldiers extra time to relax while taking care of their assigned tasks.

Since soldiers from families with means in Pyongyang went on vacation, only children of poor workers and peasants in the countryside remained on duty. The remaining soldiers were forced to double their guard duty at the university with no time for rest, causing much resentment and discontent in the company.

“While the unit commanders recruited soldiers from Pyongyang families every year to line their pockets, the soldiers who had to stay behind and do all the work received no benefits and were lucky to get a crust of bread and a cigarette,” the source said.

Trouble in the company began when the soldiers from Pyongyang were sent on leave before the Day of the Shining Star, as was the case before the Lunar New Year.

Most of the Pyongyang soldiers, who accounted for 30% of the company’s strength, had gone home to attend to their assigned tasks. The soldiers from the countryside had to switch from their typical five-shift guard duty to a two- or three-shift rotation, which increased their dissatisfaction.

One fed-up soldier goes AWOL

One soldier from Nampo was so angry about having to do endless guard duty because he came from a poor provincial family that he deserted.

The company commanders were relieved that the soldier had left his gun in the sentry box when he deserted. But realizing that their superiors would probably make a big deal out of his desertion because it occurred during the “special guard week” around the Day of the Shining Star, they immediately went to the deserter’s hometown to track him down.

In fact, the deserter had gone into hiding near his hometown. But when he learned that the company commanders planned to eat and sleep at his family’s house, he was so angry that he returned home immediately.

When the deserter was caught by the other soldiers, he began to wriggle and bang his head against the walls and doors in front of his parents, begging for an immediate discharge from the military. He shouted that he did not want to return to his company, where he was always the victim of beatings.

“The unit had tried its best to keep the incident under wraps, but rumors of the disturbance soon circulated around Nampo and eventually came to the attention of the local party committee,” the source said.

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler.

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

February 29, 2024 at 01:30PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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