Chinese Oil Embargo Paralyzes N.Korean Army

The North Korean military is experiencing a dire fuel shortage due to a Chinese oil embargo that has lasted for five months.

"Military units are making do without vehicles during drills and even regimental commanders can't use cars," a source said. "Their oil stockpiles are almost running dry, and they’re desperate to secure supplies."

The source reported rumors that regimental commanders have started riding bicycles and their drivers are taking care of their domestic chores instead.

Many fishing boats are moored in the docks although the fishery industry is a pet project of leader Kim Jong-un's and is receiving oil supplies on a priority basis, the source added.

Senior officers who used to make money from siphoning off gasoline for sale in the black market now have nothing to sell. A senior North Korean officer who was in China recently reportedly asked South Korean NGO staffers to get oil for him.

The last time the North Korean Army received a large quantity of oil was March last year, when the North staged a massive drill. At the time, top brass released war stockpiles and supplied large amounts of oil and food for the drill that was staged for the first time since Kim became supreme commander.

Due to the drill, the number of Air Force sorties reached more than 600 a day last year, much more than in previous years.

But the frequency of military drills has dropped compared to last year as the oil shortage started biting.

China shipped no crude oil at all to North Korea from January to May, according to the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency in Beijing.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 02, 2014 13:10 KST