Recruiting difficulties lead DPRK to discard consciption standards

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 08-5-29-1

It has come to light that North Korea has lowered, and in some cases abolished, medical requirements for new recruits conscripted in this year’s spring military draft. A source inside North Korea told the “Daily NK” on May 26th, “Originally, men had to be over 148cm tall and over 43 kg in order to enter the military, but this year conscripts under 148cm and less than 43kg are also required to enter military service provided they suffer from no diseases.” The medical requirements for military conscription in North Korea were lowered to 148cm height, 43kg weight, and 40/40 vision in 1994.

The source went on to say, “Originally, people with eyesight less than 40/40 could not enter the military, but this year even middle-school students with eyesight so bad they need to wear glasses are all being drafted,” and that since fall of last year, authorities from the military mobilization bureau in charge of carrying out medical checks have been working on orders that the only thing to prevent conscription is disease.

Adolescents being conscripted this year are those that were born between 1991~1993, the first generation from the period of North Korea’s devastating famine during the mid 1990s to be sent to the military. In addition, as the generation born at a time when the North’s birthrate was falling sharply, the population of the generation now facing conscription is considerably smaller than that of the older generations.

Daily NK’s source also added, “Because the number and health of the new conscripts is less than wanted, [authorities] pressed for enlistment of female students as well…Last March, a guideline was set that women not carrying out military service could not be promoted to executive positions.”

Beginning in spring of this year, parents of female students in middle schools in farming communities were summoned to “family conferences” at which they heard a political address telling them that “from now on, in order to become executives and develop socially, women also must go to the military, without exception.”

Rumors are spreading among North Korean middle-schoolers that “from now on, military service is being lengthened,” and, “Now women are also required to serve in the military.” The source added that there is also a sense of unease among commissioned soldiers, who do not know whether their time will be extended, as well.

In March of 2003, during the sixth session of the tenth Supreme People’s Committee, the ‘System of Military Service for All Citizens’ was adopted, requiring men to serve ten years in the military and women to serve in supporting roles for seven years. Those eligible for conscription are between the ages of 17 and 25, have completed middle school, and have no blemishes on their family tree.


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