On March 10, 2015, The Washington Free Beacon reported that a defecting career officer from the North Korean People’s Army divulged that not only are the people starving, but the nation’s armed forces, including the elite Storm Corps Special Forces, also face food shortages that have been described as “severe.”
With his identity kept secret, the defector was described only as a career military officer in his 40s. According to the defector, “Kim Jong-un repeatedly states that he will improve the livelihood of ordinary people but nothing has really changed. There have been no concrete actions to improve the livelihood of the people, so people no longer trust Kim Jong-un’s words and statements.”
Reportedly an officer in the much feared Storm Corps, the defector did state that officers in the military are usually much better off nutrition-wise than the general civilian population, as well as the lower ranks. The junior enlisted troops are reportedly “limited to meals of ‘corn rice’—ground corn fashioned into kernels of rice. … So some soldiers try to escape the military. Some steal food just to live.”
Painting an even bleaker picture, the officer added, “The food shortages are so severe soldiers cannot live on the rations provided by the military and must go outside of bases and steal food to survive.”
The lack of availability of food for the common people of the North is to such a degree that, according to South Korea’s JoongAng Daily, the growth of children in the North is stunted by decades worth of starvation. The Pyongyang government recently lowered the height requirement to be conscripted into the army to 4′ 7″ (142 centimeters). That’s the same height as the average American child at the age of 10 years, 3 months old, the average 4th Grader. Most North Korean teenage boys are less than 5 feet tall and weigh less than 100 pounds. In contrast, the average 17-year-old South Korean boy is 5-feet-8, only slightly shorter than an American boy of the same age.