What the parasites in a defector’s stomach tell us about North Korea

North Korea spends 22 percent of its gross domestic product on the military.

.. A Newsweek headline put it more succinctly — and brutally: “North Korea’s Kim Jong Un is starving his people to pay for nuclear weapons.”

.. many North Korean defectors to the South have shown up infected with parasites.

.. That’s partially because North Korea lacks chemical fertilizer, and many farmers rely on human excrement to fertilize fields.

.. In a 2014 study, South Korean doctors checked a sample of 17 female defectors from North Korea and found seven of them infected with parasitic worms

.. Finding worms inside a soldier who once guarded one of the most scrutinized borders in the world is especially telling, a sign that North Korea’s food woes affect military members, who typically have a higher ranking on the food-rationing list.