N.Korean Military's Morale 'Weakening'

An increasing number of North Korean military officers and soldiers are caught watching South Korean films or soap operas in barracks, sources say.

A Beijing-based source who visits the North often said Monday, "Several Army officers and soldiers have been caught watching South Korean movies or TV dramas since last year, and the military has been providing extensive indoctrination for all officers and soldiers with a view to preventing the cultural infiltration of imperialism."

The North Korean military's discipline and morale are eroding under international sanctions, with one officer caught selling bootleg porn DVDs in the North Korea-China border region.

◆ Porn and Piracy

The North Korean military is reportedly focusing on widespread South Korean broadcasts in the current indoctrination classes.

An officer was arrested for letting soldiers watch South Korean films or soap operas that he had recorded at home, the source said.

And a group of officers and soldiers at a frontline Army unit were caught watching South Korean TV and listening to South Korean radio, while an officer was arrested for listening to South Korean radio broadcasts and explaining Seoul's North Korea policy and democratic elections to his colleagues.

Another officer was arrested for making a porn film himself. A North Korean source in China's northeast said, "Rumor has it that an officer in the border region was arrested for selling porn films that he had made himself on the Chinese side of the border with North Korean women in their 20s and 30s after watching Western porn movies." He was apparently executed.  

One high-ranking official said in a regime leadership meeting, "Even though we have waged a powerful struggle to thwart ideological and cultural infiltration, we've achieved no tangible results and even the Army is faltering," according to another source.

◆ Hardship

The poor state of military discipline is due mainly to economic difficulties since the botched currency reform in late 2009. The food shortage is worsening in barracks, as it has become difficult to collect food from the public.

A Beijing-based Chinese North Korea expert said, "It's likely that the North Korean military's power to distribute resources has weakened as the regime shifted its priority from the military to the party after the big party congress last year."

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 06, 2011 08:54 KST