Report: North Korea scientists exempt from military conscription

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Updated May 17, 2017 at 7:23 AM
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May 16 (UPI) -- North Korea is conferring privileges to scientists that others could only wish for in the relatively isolated country.

It may be a sign Kim Jong Un is pleased with a class of professionals who have contributed the most to Pyongyang's burgeoning nuclear weapons and missile programs, Radio Free Asia reported.

A source in North Korea's Yanggang Province told RFA North Koreans who major in the natural sciences are now exempt from the state's 10-year military conscription.

"Not only are they exempt from military service for 10 years, they also receive good housing and live a stable life," the source said.

The source added the privileges and bestowment of status are limited to those scientists specializing in branches of physics, chemistry and biology.

Other scientists are not as lucky, the source said.

A source in North Hamgyong Province said the state benefits are being conferred at a time when scientists need them the most.

Scientists are banned from participating in the unofficial market economy that has grown exponentially for more than a decade.

"These hard-pressed scientists now receive the highest level of treatment under Kim Jong Un for the state's nuclear and missile development," the source told RFA.

The source said those benefits do not only extend to scientists in Pyongyang, who were awarded apartments along a wide boulevard called Ryomyong Street for their work on weapons.

Scientists in other provinces have been given homes, or new homes are under construction, according to the report.

North Korea launched a "successful" missile launch early Sunday, and hailed the development as evidence of its capability to equip missile with bigger and more destructive nuclear bombs.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley condemned North Korea on Tuesday and urged other countries to do more to stop Pyongyang.

"You either support North Korea or you support us, you are either with North Korea or not," Haley said, according to Bloomberg.

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