North Korea stepping up recruitment of soldiers

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (UPI) — North Korea may be facing a shortage of enlisted soldiers.

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Radio Free Asia new policies no longer exempt certain groups from serving in the Korean People’s Army.

“In previous cases only sons, children of farming cooperative members, and offspring of mine workers were exempt from military service provided they worked at their parents’ work sites,” the source said.

But in recent times those people who were exempted are being required to enter the service due to new regulations.

The laws apply to those who are in their mid-30s or younger.

The new changes come at a time when the number of military recruits is shrinking, the source said.

In response, the North Korean army is “indiscriminately” sending physical examination notices to the newly qualified candidates.

But ordinary North Koreans aren’t happy with the policy and military authorities are coming under criticism for haphazardly selecting new recruits to work on construction projects rather than to enhance combat troops, according to the source.

The measures are being implemented at a time when North Korea is renovating a lavish building that serves as the mausoleum of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il – part of a larger plan to step idolization of the ruling family.

On Friday, Workers’ Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported Kim Jong Un sent messages of appreciation to various supporters of the renovation of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun.

Kim’s plan in May was to add a layer of gold leaf to the roof and decorate the building with crystal beads.

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