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North Korean troops face deadly risks building border defenses

Morale is plummeting among North Korean military units laying mines and building walls along the front line of the inter-Korean border. The government-ordered construction and mine-laying is part of an effort to fortify the Military Demarcation Line (MDL).

“Units on the front line have been ordered to fortify the entire area along the Military Demarcation Line as the best way to prevent North Koreans from defecting across the border to the South. But the morale of the soldiers continues to fall due to a series of difficulties, including accidents at work and shortage of materials,” a source in North Korea’s Kangwon Province told Daily NK on Wednesday on condition of anonymity.

North Korean military units on the front line are currently following government orders to build walls along the MDL. But in the absence of adequate supplies of construction tools and materials, the soldiers are forced to raid civilian homes to make up the shortfall.

Civilians are worried about the thefts and fear that their lives could be in danger in one of these incidents, the source said.

Soldiers face food shortages and dangers while laying mines

The source said that another problem for the soldiers mobilized for the construction work is that they are constantly hungry because they cannot count on three square meals a day.

Solving these problems requires the units to steal money and food, but even the higher-ups are uncomfortable with this, causing morale to plummet throughout the units. This also lowers the soldiers’ willingness to work, preventing the construction from picking up speed, the source said.

There have also been a number of injuries caused by explosions among mine layers, making soldiers nervous and further undermining their morale.

“Some soldiers of a frontline unit in Hoeyang County, Kangwon Province, lost limbs or were blinded in an accidental explosion while laying mines along the demarcation line. But instead of taking preventive measures, the unit only stressed the necessity and importance of taking measures to strengthen security at the frontline and prevent ‘traitors to the nation’ from fleeing the country,” the source said.

The unit tried to reassure the soldiers by promising to give a badge and honors to any soldier injured in another accident, but no one is showing much eagerness to resume work, the source said.

“Soldiers say privately that it’s crucial for the government to provide materials and also take measures to protect soldiers from accidents,” the source said.

According to the source, the MDL fortification ordered by the North Korean government is mainly aimed at preventing soldiers and civilians living in the border region from defecting to South Korea.

North Korea is focusing on discouraging border residents from defecting by warning that anyone caught trying to defect will face severe legal consequences and that their treachery will leave a permanent stain on their family name.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. 

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

Read in Korean

July 05, 2024 at 08:15AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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