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Thousands ‘beg’ to be enlisted in North Korea, sources say

Aug 03,2006
Men and women of military age who have not yet joined the service have sent petitions to the government begging to be enlisted as soon as possible, sources close to North Korean affairs said yesterday. From behind the scenes, the government has organized similar such drives before, North Korean defectors said.
One of the sources, who recently returned from Pyongyang, said he saw gatherings at schools, factories and companies in which North Korean youth groups pledged their patriotism and signed petitions asking the ruling Workers’ Party to allow them to join the military. Such gatherings took place in Pyongyang and also around the nation, the source said.
At the gatherings, youngsters shouted slogans such as “Let’s crush the U.S. imperialists,” and “Let’s achieve national unification,” the source said. The movement began after the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on July 15 condemning North Korea’s missile tests. The petition drive started at Kim Il Sung University and at major schools in Pyongyang. More than 10,000 had signed petitions that had been provided to the government as of Monday, the source said.
A North Korean defector in Seoul who fled his communist homeland in 1999 said the petition drive is a political show. “After the North’s axe murder at Panmunjeom in 1976 and during the first nuclear crisis of 1993 and 1994, similar petition drives took place,” Han Gil-seon said. “It is the North’s typical method to create a sense of crisis internally to seek solidarity from the people.”
Under the North’s constitution, all North Korean men are required to serve in the military. The men are required to serve for 10 years, and normally begin their service at the age of 17. It is possible to postpone the enlistment until age 25. Women are strongly encouraged to serve.
Pyongyang has also heightened the sense of crisis internally, North Korean watchers in South Korea have said. North Korean media have repeated reports about “the darkening cloud of war over the peninsula” since last month.
Han S. Park, a Korean-American professor of political science at the University of Georgia who travels frequently to North Korea, wrote about the mood there after his most recent trip, following the country’s July 5 missile test launches. “The military officials and commanders [of the North] told me on numerous occasions that they have been preparing for another Korean war in which the victorious North will unify the nation.
“For this, removing the American presence in the South is imperative. They have been preparing for war with the United States for 50 years, and they are tired of waiting,” Mr. Park wrote in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on Monday. “They are fully expecting to be attacked and invaded by America and its allies, and they believe that no one but themselves can ensure their survival.”


by Special Reporting Team, Ser Myo-ja


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