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North Korean elites paying bribes to keep kids out of military, source says

Some families in North Korea are paying hundreds of dollars to keep their children at home.

By
Elizabeth Shim
North Korean soldiers sit in the shade near the North Korean city Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea. Well-to-do families are required to send their teenage sons and daughters to serve in the military, but poor conditions are drawing complaints. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
North Korean soldiers sit in the shade near the North Korean city Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea. Well-to-do families are required to send their teenage sons and daughters to serve in the military, but poor conditions are drawing complaints. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, May 12 (UPI) -- North Korea's elite expend up to $500 every month in bribes to exempt their sons and daughters from military service.

A source in North Hamgyong Province who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Radio Free Asia a new ordinance requires teenage boys and girls to complete military duty.

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"Now the authorities are establishing military service as a requirement prior to enrolling at professional school or university," the source said.

The payments to evade duty are made in U.S. dollars, the source added.

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In order to be exempt from North Korea military service, recruits must provide a document from a hospital stating physical movement is virtually impossible.

Recruits -- men and women -- are required to undergo a six-month training period then be deployed to a military unit.

But families with money to spare have been known to expend as much as $500 per month to bribe military divisions. They often claim their children are in need of medical treatment, the source said.

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Another source in South Hamgyong Province said about half of new soldiers after training are assigned to construction work, while the remaining half are assigned to their military section.

"Those soldiers who are assigned to inferior units are just wearing uniforms. In reality, they're being deployed as forced laborers," the source said.

Food provisions don't provide adequate nutrition at various places, including at construction sites in Pyongyang, the Huichon power station in Jagang Province, or at a racetrack that's being built, the source said.

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Meals consist of corn kernels, and the workers aren't given sufficient breaks, the source added.

Some families have complained about the way their children have been treated at the work sites, and disputes have erupted between military personnel and citizens, according to the source.

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