February 29, 2024
Columns

Why North Korea introduced its own version of alternative civilian service

The DPRK’s shock detachments realize a dream of early communist leaders and provide a path to social advancement

North Korean cities have always been crowded with men and women clad in uniform. The country has one of the world’s largest standing armies, and many professional groups require members to wear uniforms, like personnel of the Pyongyang subway system.

One kind of uniform appears almost as frequently as the military one — that of strike brigades (돌격대). This peculiar North Korean institution can be seen as a distant analog of alternative civilian service.

Become a member for less then $4 per week.

  • Unlimited access to all of NK News: reporting, investigations, analysis
  • The NK News Daily Update, an email newsletter to keep you in the loop
  • Searchable archive of all content, photo galleries, special columns
  • Contact NK News reporters with tips or requests for reporting
Get unlimited access to all NK News content, including original reporting, investigations, and analyses by our team of DPRK experts.
Subscribe now

All major cards accepted. No commitments – you can cancel any time.