Soldiers’ Padded Clothes

Late in February 1996 Chairman Kim Jong Il met two soldiers while inspecting a frontline unit of the Korean People’s Army on Height 351.

Looking closely at their winter clothes, he asked them whether they thought the clothes were too thin. One of them answered that when they were on sentry duty, they wore fur-lined overcoats.

Chairman Kim Jong Il shook his head. He pressed their winter shoes with his finger, saying that they were also thinly padded.

Looking again at their winter clothes, which bore a lot of stitches, he told the officers accompanying him that the wind might get through the needle holes, that winter clothes without stitching would be better, and that they should make sure that soldiers didn’t feel cold however much cloth might be needed.

Worried that he was staying too long on the height exposed to the biting cold, the officers urged him to leave.

But he declined, saying that when he saw the soldiers looking so cold  he wasn’t inclined to leave. His face clouded with anxiety, he went on:

“You don’t feel cold as you are wearing fine overcoats, but the soldiers do. The soldiers aren’t here for the sake of their officers. The officers are here for the sake of their soldiers. Officers must be genuine officers for the good of their soldiers.”