Once you march in a military parade, which is a national event in North Korea, you will feel severe pain as if your intestines ruptured
In a development which will enrage Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, the soldier apparently took to his heels after being subjected to bullying and abuse as a result of his failure to goose-step properly during military drills. The Hermit State is gearing up for the parade on October 10, with soldiers selected to take part being forced to go through months of harsh training.
US-backed website Radio Free Asia painted a grim picture of the scene, with a North Korean defector living in South Korea saying: “Once you march in a military parade, which is a national event in North Korea, you will feel severe pain as if your intestines ruptured.
“Soldiers participating in this year’s parade, the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party, are likely to suffer with the aftereffects of training in parade formation for a long while after the event is finished.
“Since most of the training occurs in summer, soldiers die from the extreme summer heat and the unimaginable high-intensity training.”
The chaotic preparations will not have pleased Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un
A North Korean defector offered a grim insight into the preparations
Evidently it was too much for one particular soldier, who fled on September 5.
Another source within the North Korean military, who did not name either the unit or the soldier, said: “The deserter is a 22-year old male soldier who they say was subjected to extreme training and constant bullying.
“He left the military parade training center at Mirim Airport, located on the outskirts of Pyongyang, at dawn on the 5th.
A previous military parade in Pyong Yang
“They say he received severe verbal abuse and punishment from the vice platoon leader on the day before he deserted.
“He had slacked off in training and had failed to march in time with his line and column and had not goose-stepped with his legs at the right height.”
Not that he was the only one to find the training difficult, RFA’s source said.
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Vehicles parked and troops in formation
A replica of Kim Il-sung Square in Pyong Yang
He explained: “A number of soldiers have collapsed after training sessions that last more than 12 hours, as the unit strives to ensure a perfect performance on the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party.
“Even so, authorities are pushing the soldiers to train even harder to ensure the quality of the event, regardless of their safety.
“In this country, it is the highest honor not only to yourself, but also for your family, to participate in an official military parade, especially to commemorate such an important historical event, but the solder deserted training anyway.”
Another source in Pyongyang said: “Due to the desertion, they are enhancing guard duty and restricting nighttime movement at the campsite of the soldiers and their training site at Mirim Airport.
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“Military parades are not only national spectacles; they show off our military power not only in North Korea but also in other countries.
“This is why flouting orders to participate in a military parade, regardless of the reason, is an act that diminishes the pride and status of our military.
“If the deserter is arrested, he will face severe punishment.”
The 38 North website, which is dedicated to offering in-depth analysis of North Korea, last month published satellite images of the training site at Mirim Airport.
The soldier deserted after being bullied over the quality of his goose-stepping
Their report said: “Two images from August 31, taken just 30 minutes apart, show hundreds of vehicles parked in the northwest parking lots adjacent to the parade grounds, and thousands of troops in formations near or in the area that replicates Kim Il-sung Square.
“The Mirim facility, which is located on the eastern side of Pyongyang, is typically used as a rehearsal location for parades.
“Compared to previous years, training appears to have started slightly later than usual, possibly due to COVID-19 and anti-pandemic measures or severe weather constraints.
“In 2017, for instance, preparations were observed about two months ahead of the April 15 parade while in 2015, the first signs of preparations for the October 10 parade were observed in May.”