A “quasi-state of war” – the North Korean people’s response

Monday 24th August, 2015

A New Focus correspondent in North Korea reports on the internal northern situation regarding the most recent proclamation of war readiness.

Image via KCNA/Reuters,

On August 20, a ‘quasi-state of war’ was declared in the front line region in the name of the Supreme Commander. Following this, on August 21 at 1700 hours, combined military forces stationed on the front line region entered into a state of war-readiness.

In the past, the North Korean government has issued declarations of a ‘quasi-state of war’ to all military forces in the country. But the most recent declaration concerns only troops stationed on the front line near the DMZ. Why did North Korea make an unusual decision to issue the ‘quasi-state of war’ declaration not nationwide, but only on the southern front line?

Our correspondent informed us on August 21 via telephone: “North Koreans residents living in northern border cities remain unaffected. Everything is running as usual. Inhabitants of Hyesan region have received no instructions regarding a ‘quasi-state of war’. If a nation-wide declaration of a ‘quasi-state of war’ was made, all of the construction projects intended to mark the upcoming anniversary of the foundation of the Worker’s Party would have to come to a halt.”

There is no large reaction on the part of North Korean residents when the government proclaims a state of war-readiness. It no longer alarms them, because the declaration is issued often, especially when inter-Korean relations become slightly more tense.

The correspondent’s report continued: “Today, all residents [in this area] are summoned for mobilizations according to targets, to complete apartments and statues in time for the 70th Anniversary of the foundation of the Worker’s Party.”

“Hyesan is entering into the final stages of completion of its apartment blocks. In Pyongyang, in preparation for the anniversary parade, many soldiers and university students are engaged in marching drills. If the ‘quasi-state of war’ was actually declared nationwide, it would ruin all the preparation efforts for events to mark the 70th KWP anniversary.”

He added, “The North Korean people here do not feel fear, no matter what kind of war readiness proclamations are made, because it is already hard enough getting through life. They say it wouldn’t really matter to them who won or lost.”

 

Reporting by Lee, Cheol-Mu.

Read in Korean.

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