Mid-level NK soldiers pawning their uniforms for cash

ZAKZAK reports that while authentic North Korean army uniforms have been available for sale in China near the North Korean border for some time, until recently you could only find low-level grunts. But now real rarities have found their way to China – actual ceremonial uniforms worn by colonels at occasions attended by Kim Jong Il himself. In the DPRK’s Korean People’s Army, colonels are 8th from the top of the 24-rank hierarchy of which the late Kim Il Sung remains the top.

Normal usually sell for about 37,000 yen (2300 yuan or about $340) and usually go to South Korean or Japanese tourists, according to one seller. The uniforms are in abundance as soldiers pawn them to pay for daily necessities. Experts quoted in the article felt that this indicated some further degradation of whatever order is left in the North Korean military, who are supposed to be some of the best taken care of people in the country.

The uniforms make it to China through a small network of traders who move back and forth along the border, often making deals from within NK with carefully hidden mobile phones.