Pyongyang Vice: Tale of Veteran-Students

Daily NK
Park Choel Yong

Army Veterans in North Korea can have bright futures once accepted into college. In North Korea, serving in the Armed Forces, party membership, and college diplomas are three main keys for success.

However, a Veteran matriculate is not necessarily awarded with a diploma after four years.

Veteran-students without money or parental auspice would have to suffer turbulent years leading up till graduation.

First of all, most of them acknowledge that they are too old to study ardently (since veterans have spent at least seven to eight years in the Armed Forces); therefore, Veteran-students do not hesitate to take shortcuts.

Every North Korean university/college is organized as if it were a military academy. In this semi-military college student environment, Veterans usually take an officer role and often take advantage of their position, taking bribes from other students.

As another vice, some Veteran-students commit adultery while in college. An ex-serviceman studying in college and communist party members are the most eligible bachelors in North Korea. Many rich parents encourage their daughters to marry with collegiate Veterans.

Exploiting their popularity, some Veterans have wives to support in their hometowns, but engage with another woman in Pyongyang. Some even divorce their under-educated and less-privileged wives to marry their mistresses.

Often times, a divorced wife of a Veteran-student will come to the college in Pyongyang and seek help at the party office.

Some Veteran-students boast “There is a nice way to shut them (divorced wives) up!” The ‘way’ is demanding huge sums of money from the parents-in-law. The wife’s parents will be shocked, will tire of the petition, and eventually, the call for divorce will come from the other side.

A Veteran-student from my college never let his wife leave his hometown to visit him in Pyongyang because she was too rustic.

An additional area of concern is that Veteran-students frequently instigate fist fights.

The Veterans, who sweat and bled on the drill field, can not allow other students to regard themselves as being in the same class. So they bully other students into revering them, and often fight with those who refuse to do so.

At other times, these Veteran-students will provoke quarrels with police or traffic officers.

Their fighting ability ranks top, but academically, they are pitiful; yet they make no efforts to overcome the disadvantage.

Veteran-students learn how to exploit a situation. And as soon as they are appointed as party leaders after graduation from college, ex-servicemen tend to pursue power and money by preying on their subordinates.

North Korean people used to call American imperialists “wolves” (a very derogatory term). However, more people now have begun to redirect the term toward party officials, who were once Veteran-students themselves.


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