North Korea is urging its youth to voluntarily join the military en masse in an apparent effort to unite its people ahead of what appeared to be an imminent atomic test, according to media reports from the reclusive country.
Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper, carried an article on Thursday featuring a university architecture student who suspended his studies to join the military in a bid to help defend his country from outside threats.
The same article also reported that a group of middle school students eagerly pledged to join the army and that a growing number of young people are planning to join or reenlist in the military.
A Jan. 26 report by the North's Korean Central News Agency also stated that "Many young people are volunteering for military service, out of their will to annihilate the enemies."
According to North Korea experts in Seoul, the communist regime often uses its propaganda media outlets to instill a sense of patriotism among its people when it believes the country faces a crisis.
The North issued similar calls for enlistment in 1993 after it withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, touching off acute tension with the outside world.
"North Korean authorities are encouraging the youth to enlist and trying to dramatize the pressure from the outside world and the sense of crisis in a bid to set the social mood to unite before the nuclear test," said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Seoul's Dongguk University.
North Korea has strongly indicated that it is in its final stage of preparation before conducting another nuclear test in response to a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning its Dec.
12 long-range rocket launch. South Korea officials believe that North Korea is technically ready to conduct a nuclear test at any time upon approval by the North Korean leader. The communist regime had previously conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. (Yonhap News)