The official North Korean news agency (KCNA) has reported that 700 underage orphans have volunteered and are working in the mines, factories and collective farms.

The state media highlights “the wisdom and courage” of these boys and girls who “in their early youth” have chosen to work voluntarily. Thus, the chain of the dictatorship reported that “dozens of orphaned children have already arrived at the Chonnae Mining Complex to fulfill their oath and return even one millionth of the love that the Party has shown them.”

But the message of the North Korean regime hides a truth: child exploitation and slavery. It is that various human rights groups have accused North Korea of ​​using forced labor of minors and warns that many of these slaves would be children of South Korean prisoners of the Korean War.

Pyongyang never released tens of thousands of South Korean prisoners after the Korean War (1950-1953). These people were sent to coal mines and forced to work in conditions similar to slavery, and their children and grandchildren inherited this brutal fate, detailed the report of the Citizens Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (NKHR).

At the base of these brutal mechanisms of segregation is the system known as “songbun”, which classifies the people of North Korea according to their social and political origins.

Absolute loyalty to the North Korean authorities is a crucial factor in this system, and those whose ancestors collaborated with the Japanese enemy or were capitalists rank last. “This songbun system was passed on to their children and grandchildren, who continue to work in coal, lead, zinc, magnesite and other mines,” the Seoul-based NGO report said. This prevents them “from changing their address, their job or from pursuing higher education,” he adds.

The US State Department has denounced practices such as the existence of “militarized youth brigades” of minors that “help with special projects such as removing snow from roads or meeting production targets”. He has also warned of “physical and psychological damage, malnutrition, exhaustion and growth problems as a result of forced labor.”


The North Korean dictator is known for his cruelty. The UN denounced in its last report the systematic violation of its regime to human rights

North Korea has consistently denied these accusations and recently singled out US President Joe Biden for his “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang.

However, months ago, a United Nations investigation concluded that crimes against humanity continue to be committed in North Korea, in a context marked by impunity and in which the international community should intervene to guarantee accountability, through the International Criminal Court (ICC) or an ‘ad hoc’ mechanism.

The UN Commission of Inquiry already detected in 2014 that crimes against humanity were being committed in North Korea and, seven years later, it has reached the same conclusion. Thus, he has considered that there are sufficient indications that certify situations of extermination, murder, slavery, imprisonment, sexual abuse, persecution for political reasons and forced disappearance.

The testimonies of people who have escaped from the Asian country reveal systematic abuses within the North Korean prison system, where the authorities inflict both physical and psychological damage to inmates on a recurring basis, from beatings to prolonged use of painful positions to lack of food , forced labor or no medical attention.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, regretted that seven years after the “historic” first report, “not only does impunity prevail, but human rights violations continue to be committed that could amount to crimes against humanity”.

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