North Korea Says Orphan Children Are Volunteering to Work in Coal Mines

“Our children are now growing brightly,” North Korea’s foreign ministry said.
Junhyup Kwon
Seoul, KR
June 1, 2021, 10:19am
Kim Jong Un Orphans Children North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is shown visiting a school for orphans in Pyongyang, in a photo released by the state media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 2, 2017.

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.”

Kim Jong Un Orphans Children North Korea

The “volunteers” were given a send-off by officials and teachers, according to North Korean state media. Photo Courtesy: Rodong Sinmun

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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