July 17 (UPI) — Malnutrition is soaring in the North Korean military, and the parents of troops are stepping in to supply their children with food provisions, according to a Japanese press report.
Asia Press reported Monday North Korean authorities are responsible for the dire food situation in the Korean People’s Army as Kim Jong Un presses forward with provocations, most recently a Fourth of July missile test.
Multiple sources in North Korea said in the wake of the state’s “neglect,” families are sending food to hungry soldiers.
“Because of the poor food situation in the military, parents are increasingly providing food for children in the service, instead of the state,” the report says.
One source in a northern region of the country said there is evidence soldiers are going hungry.
“Sons and daughters who served in the military are very often returning home, owing to malnutrition,” the source said. “The health of border guards in my area is weakening.”
The border guards were previously able to make a living by accepting bribes by “closing their eyes on smuggling from China.”
“But recently as restrictions have become more severe, the lives of soldiers have also become difficult,” Asia Press’ source said.
The source added there was a local disturbance after soldiers who borrowed food from civilians could not “pay them back on time.”
Parents visit their children with food because of the shortage — once a month for families of relative means, once every three months for less well off people, the source said.
The parents sometimes make cakes with corn flour, also known as “speed battle flour,” at an officer’s residence or at a local home.
The cakes are ready in 1-2 minutes when kneaded with water. Parents also send money so their children in the military can buy food.
“The Kim Jong Un government continues to repeat missile tests, but ordinary soldiers are being neglected,” the source said.
In June several North Korean soldiers defected or expressed a desire to defect to the South.