Speed Reads

A Frightening Figure

North Korea claims 800,000 people volunteered to fight against the U.S.

North Korean state media claimed Saturday that at least 800,000 people had volunteered to fight in a hypothetical war against the United States. 

The country's official state-run newspaper, Rodong Sinmunsaid that the large turnout was "a demonstration of the unshakeable will of the younger generation to mercilessly wipe out the war maniacs making last-ditch efforts to eliminate our precious socialist country." The report added that the volunteers would help "achieve the great cause of national reunification without fail and a clear manifestation of their ardent patriotism."

The validity of North Korea's claims, as with most things that come out of the hermit state, is unclear. However, NK News, an American-run media watchdog that monitors events in North Korea, reported that "photos released with Saturday's report showed young people waiting in line to sign documents at state-organized rallies held Friday at theaters and construction sites."

All men are required to serve at least ten years in the military as part of North Korea's mandatory conscription laws. It is unclear if any of this compulsatory service was included in the country's 800,000-strong figure. 

The Rodong Sinmun report comes just two days after North Korea fired yet another ICBM into the sea off the Korean peninsula. The country's test launches have been ramping up in recent months as tensions between North Korea and the American-South Korean alliance in the region continue to escalate. 

The U.S. and South Korea "began 11 days of joint drills, dubbed 'Freedom Shield 23,' [this past] Monday, held on a scale not seen since 2017 to counter the North's growing threats," Reuters reported. 

North Korea's latest launch also occurred just hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol flew to Japan for a summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to reiterate their strong diplomatic ties.