Rocket Man is ready for battle.
Kim Jong Un’s media machine reported this week that 4.7 million people offered to enlist in the North Korean armed forces in the days after President Donald Trump promised to “totally destroy” the rogue state—and the new recruits would more than quadruple the size of the nation’s already mammoth military.
State-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun said the fresh recruits include students and veterans of all genders.
Is it true or just more propaganda? In August, for example, the government said 3.5 million people volunteered to fight after the United Nations imposed sanctions on Pyongyang.
With 1.1 million people in the armed forces, North Korea already has the fourth-largest military in the world, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. As recently as 2014, the impoverished nation was spending some $3.5 billion every year on the military, which also includes 5,500 rocket launchers and 4,300 tanks, in addition to the nuclear weapons it keeps testing.
By comparison, the U.S. military has about 1.3 million active members.
North Korea has mandatory conscription: Men must serve in the military for 10 years, and women have to join for about seven years, according to The Telegraph. And conditions for soldiers are not great. Defectors have said troops subsist mainly on potatoes. Sexual assault is common. And people are brainwashed into agreeing with their leaders.
“We’re taught to obey only Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un; whatever they order must be done, no matter how dangerous,” one former soldier, Kim Hun, told the Unification Media Group earlier this year. “North Korean soldiers are virtually incapable of real logic, and they know very little about the world. Even when they leave the service, they are programmed with the brainwashing they received for so many years in the service.”
And that explains the timing of the latest news report/propaganda from the North Korean state media. Conflict between the two nations is coming to a head. Trump triggered a war of words by deriding Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man” for his missile tests and declared that his country “won’t be around much longer.”
In response, North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said Tuesday that Trump had “declared a war on our country.” NBC News reported that Trump doubled down in his response, saying the White House was “totally prepared” to take “devastating” action against Pyongyang.