Winter Training? Escape prevention training
The North Korean Army officially began their annual winter training on December 1 last year. The training is estimated to last until the March 20. Inside sources revealed that army troops, Red Guards and army reserves were issued an emergency summons on the December 1 at 5 a.m.
Winter training progresses in three levels. They are: ‘political theory study’, ‘New Year’s Speech study’ and finally, the unifying aspect of the training ‘final ranking verdict’. Kim Jong Un appears every day to inspect the soldiers, instructing them to ‘prepare to fight’.
Media outlets in South Korea say that the training will be quite aggressive, to give the impression of stability and control inside North Korea. In the past, North Korea’s winter training also included sessions called ‘unification of the Motherland’ and ‘invasion exercises’. However, in recent days a more prominent issue has surfaced: escapees.
New Focus’ inside sources say that since winter training commenced, northern border patrol has also tightened. It has been observed that people have been prevented from entering the area surrounding the Yalu/Tumen River after 6 p.m. When asked whether this had any connection to the winter training sessions, inside sources confirmed that the two were related.
They continued, “As more people defect. the China-Korea border has become a bigger issue than the DMZ. Because of this, a large proportion of training personnel were assigned to border protection tasks, indicating that the North Korean government will no longer tolerate defection.”
Further, “These winter training sessions are, in truth, no different to escape prevention training. It means that they will block the route where defectors could escape to China. The smugglers in China also gravely acknowledge that smuggling has become more difficult in recent times.”
Choi Ji-Hong, who escaped from North Korea in 2013, said, “Defectors have been spreading to many places in the world, other than South Korea, and telling their stories, which is a likely reason for why North Korea would tighten its border control.”
Choi continues, “North Korea would also be provoked by the fact that defectors frequently appear on news programs, or on shows such as On My Way to Meet You. Escaping will be increasingly difficult, and those looking to escape would be very concerned.”
To conclude, the current winter training sessions in North Korea are, in truth, escape prevention efforts to stop North Koreans from entering China. These efforts emphasise aspects of restriction and confinement inside North Korea, instead of actual improvement the system to convince citizens to stay.
Reporting by Shin, Junshik