North Korea says children volunteering on mines and farms

North Korea says children volunteering on mines and farms
State media published photos of a ceremony for the children who allegedly volunteered. Source: MINJU CHOSUN
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Daily US Times: Orphans in North Korea are volunteering to work in state-run mines and farms, the country’s state media claimed.

Hundreds of children “with wisdom and courage in the prime of their youth” have chosen to perform manual labour for the state, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

The children’s ages are unclear but photos suggest they are in their teens.

Human rights groups have long accused North Korea, which is ruled by a government with rigid control over all parts of people’s lives, of using forced child labour, something the state denies.

The BBC reported on February about the allegations that generations of South Korean prisoners of war are being used as slave labour in the North’s coal mines to generate money for the regime and its weapons programme.

About 26 million people are thought to live in North Korea.

In April, North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un warned his country to prepare for tough times ahead in a rare admission of problems. North Korea shut its borders in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, shutting off trade with China – its economic lifeline.

Several reports in KCNA over the last week say so-called volunteers are taking up manual labour across the country.

A KCNA report on Saturday said 700 orphans had volunteered to work at factories, farms and forests.

And on Thursday, the state media reported that “dozens of orphan children rushed out to the Chonnae Area Coal-mining Complex to fulfil their oath to repay even just a millionth of the love the party showed”.

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