North Korea: Orphaned Kids 'Volunteer' for Dangerous Jobs

Reports come as Kim Jong Un cracks down on youth
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2021 12:17 PM CDT
North Korea: Orphaned Kids 'Volunteer' for Dangerous Jobs
In this March 4, 2021, file photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a speech in Pyongyang, North Korea. State media say Kim vowed to launch an “uncompromising struggle” against anti-socialist elements and build a perfect self-supporting economy.   (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)

North Korea’s state-run—and only—news agency, KCNA, says patriotic orphaned children have volunteered to work in coal mines and farms. Pictures included with the article show kids who look to be young teens. The kids, apparently raised by the state, are said to be doing difficult and dangerous work "to repay even just a millionth of the love the party showed," which is a type of claim common in North Korean media, per NK News. The US State Department has accused of Pyongyang of using forced child labor in the past, and the BBC has reported on South Korean prisoners of war being enslaved for generations.

In the past, North Korean claims of young people "volunteering" for dangerous or difficult work have shown older teens or young adults, NK News notes. According to NBC News, the KCNA report says the kids had graduated from middle school. North Korea has denied using forced child labor in the past. The images of young teens going off to work in mines and farms comes at a time when North Korea's President Kim Jong-un is said to be cracking down on dissent among youth and trying to cut out pop culture and media from outside the country’s borders, per the BBC.
(More Kim Jong Un stories.)

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