By Kim Se-jeong
The North Korean military hasn’t been able to supply its men and women on duty with the proper winter uniforms to help them endure a particularly harsh winter this year.
Quoting multiple defectors, Radio Free Asia reported the military doesn’t even have enough uniforms for its Special Forces.
The average temperature in Pyongyang was below -10 degrees Celsius last week and it is among the warmest cities in North Korea.
The North Korean People’s Army regulates that soldiers are to be provided with one set of winter uniforms every other year and one set of summer uniforms every year, but the winter uniform has once been replaced once in four years.
Some Special Forces agents even rob civilian houses in search of clothes and other basic commodities. “This is how we keep ourselves self-sufficient,” Radio Free Asia reported, quoting defectors.
According to the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights based in Seoul, the situation for ordinary citizens is much worse.
With a deteriorating economy, clothing factories have closed down their operations, and without any manufacturing the supply has dwindled to almost nothing.
The provision of outerwear, underwear and shoes has come to a halt, and people are pushed to purchase them at local markets that are operating illegally. Clothes are mostly imported from China, although some come from Japan and South Korea.
Importers remove all the tags from the clothes, so that it is impossible to determine where they originated from or were manufactured.