North Korean Youth Volunteer for Military

According to North Korean state media, hundreds of thousands of young North Koreans have volunteered for military service to fight against the “US imperialists”. On Friday, more than 800,000 youth league officials and students across the country signed up to join the people’s army, KCNA reported on Saturday. The state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun published photos of long lines of young North Koreans in what appeared to be a construction site.

This mass volunteer drive comes in the wake of North Korea’s testing of its largest intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17. The missile test was reportedly a response to ongoing US-South Korea joint military exercises, which Pyongyang sees as preparation for an invasion of North Korea. KCNA has warned that the biggest maneuvers in five years are nearing an “unforgivable red line” and Pyongyang has repeatedly threatened “overwhelming measures” in response to perceived threats.

North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un has previously declared his country an “irreversible nuclear power” and ordered the military to step up maneuvers in preparation for “real war.” Last year, he declared that North Korea had achieved its long-sought goal of developing a nuclear arsenal capable of striking the US mainland. The country’s military has conducted several missile tests in recent months, despite international sanctions and condemnation.

The news of the mass volunteer drive also comes as North Korea faces a dire humanitarian situation. The country is believed to be facing food shortages and economic struggles, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters. The World Food Programme has warned that more than 10 million North Koreans are in urgent need of food assistance.

The situation in North Korea remains highly tense, with the country continuing to develop its nuclear capabilities and engaging in saber-rattling with the US and its allies. The international community has called on North Korea to abandon its nuclear program and engage in dialogue to resolve the conflict peacefully, but so far, these efforts have been largely unsuccessful.