Paramilitary: North Korean Mercs Disappearing

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June 8, 2016: In May 2016 Uganda agreed to join the rest of Africa and halt any trade or military ties with North Korea. This ends three decades of such activities between the two countries. Without international pressure Uganda would have continued buying military equipment and services from North Korea. As recently as 2014 North Korea sent a senior official to Uganda to discuss providing trainers for the Ugandan national police. North Korea offered low price and a good, if somewhat grisly, track record. In the 1980s North Korea sold Uganda weapons and security services. There were several other African nations who quietly did the same. All this is was part of the North Korean efforts to raise desperately needed foreign currency. Before 1991, when Russia cut its economic and military aid, North Korea had sought trade and diplomatic relations all over the world. Many African countries were particularly interested in the savage and effective police state security techniques that North Korea had developed and used itself.

North Korea had long been known as the most effective police state in the world. North Korea was also willing to do business with anyone who could pay. Sometimes North Korea did business with rebels or private groups in need of some reliable (and willing to do anything) muscle. In 2000 North Korea sent military advisors to the Congo. The civil war raging there has attracted mercenaries from many nations, especially former communist ones. The North Korea mercs were respected as the most effective and unrestrained. In the 1980s, North Korea supplied hundreds of military advisors to the government of Zimbabwe to train a special brigade to put down unrest among people of a different tribe than Zimbabwe's leadership. The special brigade put down the rebellion with considerable brutality and was disbanded in 1988. North Korea supplied training, military equipment and advisors to Burkina Faso from the 1970s until 2009, when Burkina Faso agreed to abide by UN embargoes on trade with North Korea.

The loss of this business is not seen as a total loss by the North Korean government, which has noted that more and more of its security and technical advisors return home infected with the heretical belief that there can be a better life outside North Korea. For a growing number of North Koreas life in an African police state seems like a big step up from the shortages and oppression that are the norm back home.

 


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