Life on a Small North Korean Submarine
BackgroundLiving in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is strictly regulated under a legal system based on the Prussian Legal System the Best (according to 19th c. Japan) and Communist legal theory. Credible facts about everyday life in North Korean have not flowed as freely as cheerful claims by its leaders. Credible facts about the DPRK's military have been even more cloistered. According to the CIA's The World Factbook [color emphasis mine], 18 is presumed to be the legal minimum age for compulsory military service; 16-17 is the presumed legal minimum age for voluntary service (2012).
We wonder what crewing may be like for North Korea's submarine sailors. Intriguing clues are available from public sources outside of the DPRK in two rare cases that came to the attention of external authorities and news media.
Example One: Penalty for participation in spy sub's failure
Officials said there were signs of a struggle inside the submarine, as four North Korean agents apparently shot themselves to death after first killing five sailors.
South Korean authorities also said there were indications that the vessel, which was captured after becoming entangled in a fisherman's net off the South Korean coast Monday, had been on a spy mission, leaving them divided about how much of an issue to make of this latest North Korean incursion.
North Korea's Version of Events
The submarine sank as it was being towed into port, it was unclear if this was as a result of damage or a deliberate scuttling by the crew. On 23 June the Korean Central News Agency admitted that a submarine had been lost in a training accident.
On 25 June the submarine was salvaged [not by North Korea] from a depth of approximately 100 feet (30 m) and the bodies of 9 crewmen were recovered, 5 sailors had apparently been murdered while 4 agents had apparently committed suicide. The presence of South Korean drinks suggested that the crew had completed an espionage mission. Log books found in the submarine showed that it had infiltrated South Korean waters on a number of previous occasions. The bodies of the members of submarine crew were subsequently buried in the Cemetery for North Korean and Chinese Soldiers.
Example Two: Death benefit to families of submarinersMarch 11, 2016 - USNI NEWS | U.S. Official: North Korean Submarine is Missing, Presumed Sunk
Subsequently, a South Korean news outlet has claimed the sub was sunk and "improved housing" awarded to the families of the sailors lost. (This news has subsequently been removed from the internet). Draw your own conclusions.
Submarines are always silent and strange.