North Korean military told to check supplies in case of war with South Korea — Radio Free Asia

North Korea is performing supply checks to ensure the military is ready to fight a war with South Korea, an order one source said is an attempt to distract the country from ongoing economic turmoil.

The military arm of the Central Committee of the ruling Korean Workers’ Party ordered each unit and Civil Defense Departments in each province, city and county to make a check of strategic supplies to “prepare for the changing international situation.”

The inspection of strategic supplies is unplanned, a resident of the northeastern province of North Hamgyong told RFA’s Korean Service on March 13.

“It is to prepare a full-scale combat readiness posture that can quickly respond to any situation,” said the source, who requested anonymity for security reasons. “The move is aimed at strengthening the national defense power in response to the increasingly deteriorating international situation and the sharp military confrontation between the two Koreas.”

Military units are required to take a tally of stored ammunition, uniforms and foodstuffs in each unit, as well as the emergency supplies of food, medicine and tires stored by Civil Defense Departments in each region, according to the source.

“Residents think that the sudden inspection, although under the pretext of tensions, is actually aimed at creating an atmosphere of war to distract them from economic hardship,” he said.

“Officials in the propaganda and agitation sector are arguing that the situation will be tense because the new president elected in the South Korean presidential election is a bad president who wants to confront us,” he said, referring to South Korea’s conservative President-elect, Yoon Suk-yeol.

Inspections of supplies in nearby South Hamgyong province took government officials by surprise, one of the officials told RFA.

“The officials are stunned … because some of the storage areas they will inspect are empty. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a significant amount of reserve materials have already been consumed,” said the second source, who requested anonymity to speak freely.

“The Civil Defense Department officials are angry that the party is trying to use international tensions to justify their inspection. Military units are well equipped … but the Civil Defense storage is not properly stocked because supplies were used for national construction projects too,” the second source said.

The second source pointed out that the government cannot keep track of its own propaganda messages.

“They promote that we are one of the world’s leading military powers. Then there should be no reason to be nervous about the election of a new president in South Korea,” the source said.

Translated by Leejin Jun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

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