North Korea bragged that children from orphanages “volunteered to work in coal mines and farms,” despite international criticism of the country’s prevalent use of child labor.
The state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported on Friday that children from orphanages “volunteered to work in major worksites for socialist construction.”
The report featured a photo of boys and girls sitting apart from one another at a ceremony and praised the children’s intent to “glorify their youth in the struggle for the prosperity of the country.”
Rodong Sinmun said the child workers, numbering about 150, came from Tonghae (East Coast) School for Orphans and Sohae (West Coast) School for Orphans.
In another report, on Sunday, the newspaper said over 700 graduates from middle schools for orphans and senior middle schools volunteered to work in difficult fields including the forestry sector.
Human rights watchdogs have long accused North Korea of exploiting orphan children. The government has forced children to carry out strenuous labor including farming, rock breaking, and scrap-metal collecting, according to Human Rights Watch.
The North has denied claims of forced labor and accused some unspecified developed countries of subjecting children to gun violence and interfering in other nations’ affairs.
North Korea’s foreign ministry has spoken highly of how the country treats its children. Thanks to Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, the ministry said on May 25, “our children are now growing brightly and lively in the embrace of a boundlessly grateful socialist system.”
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