North Korean soldiers sit in the shade near the North Korean city Sinuiju, across the Yalu River from Dandong, China. Soldiers at the border appeared to be "undernourished," according to a Japanese journalist who recently visited the area. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Ordinary North Koreans are paying the price of Pyongyang's weapons development and low-ranking soldiers may be going without food.
Jiro Ishimaru, a Japanese journalist and founder of Asia Press, told The Guardian the state might be having trouble feeding its troops.
The problem is surfacing at a time when U.N. agencies are warning a drought that hit crops this summer has left North Korea unable to properly feed its people, according to the report.
"For one thing, there are too many soldiers to feed," Ishimaru said. "And corruption is rife, so that by the time senior military officers have taken their share of food provisions to sell for profit on the private market, there is next to nothing left for ordinary soldiers."
Ishimaru also said he saw "clearly undernourished" soldiers do their laundry along the Yalu River at the China border.
"The drought, combined with sanctions, will take the North Korean economy in a dangerous direction by next spring. This is a time of real hardship for ordinary people."
North Korea is one of the world's top 30 countries at risk of experiencing a humanitarian crisis, according to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, the coordinator of humanitarian assistance affiliated with the United Nations.
North Korea is at high risk of "hazard and exposure," which assesses the risk of catastrophe resulting from natural disasters like floods, droughts and typhoons, as well as the possibility of outbreaks of violence.
Kim Jong Un's relentless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development is also taking a toll on the people.
A source in North Korea told Daily NK local citizens were "disillusioned by the Kim Jong Un regime, which spends more money on developing missiles than improving their livelihoods."
Negative sentiments regarding weapons development is rising as anti-U.S. sentiments are on the decline, according to the report.