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Human Trafficking

Prevalence, Abuse & Exploitation of Street Children

In the first decade of the 21st Century                                           

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK  (North Korea)

North Korea, one of the world's most centrally directed and least open economies, faces chronic economic problems. Industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment and shortages of spare parts. Large-scale military spending draws off resources needed for investment and civilian consumption.

Large-scale international food aid deliveries have allowed the people of North Korea to escape widespread starvation since famine threatened in 1995, but the population continues to suffer from prolonged malnutrition and poor living conditions.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: NorthKorea

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in North Korea.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspect(s) of street life are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got there, how they survive, and how some manage to leave the street.  Perhaps your paper could focus on how some street children abuse the public and how they are abused by the public … and how they abuse each other.  Would you like to write about market children? homeless children?  Sexual and labor exploitation? begging? violence? addiction? hunger? neglect? etc.  There is a lot to the subject of Street Children.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Refugee Orphan: North Koreans Must Live on in Hope

Kim So Yeol, Daily NK, 2008-09-29

[accessed 28 June 2011]

[The following is the interview with Park]

CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE LIVING CONDITIONS IN YOUR HOMETOWN? - “Since I was born, the food situation in North Korea has been in dire straits. From 1997, the situation became more severe. Since 1994, when I was 10, I started selling in the market, indeed there were many young children who traveled to other regions to make a living. I would take the train from Suncheon, South Pyongan Province to Kimchaek, North Hamkyung Province and sell goods. I was an ‘itinerant merchant.’  I would bring an empty bag from home, buy notebooks in Suncheon, go back to Kimchaek and sell them there, then buy cheap salt in Kimchaek, and sell it in Suncheon. A bag full of salt weighed approximately 15kg.  Whenever I rode the train, there were 6 or 7 other children in the same car who were also selling goods. On unlucky days, we would have to climb on to the roof of the train and ride that way. Some children died from falling or from being electrocuted.”

WERE THERE MANY SUCH CHILDREN IN NORTH KOREA AT THE TIME? - “There were a lot of street children (kotjebi) that had to get by without any help. There would be a black crowd of them at every station. They were really black because not only were the school uniforms at that time black, but the children could not wash themselves.”  In Suncheon station alone, the number of children always exceeded 100. The street children organized themselves into groups of two or three and would steal food from people at the station, but others ended up starving to death or had to wait for someone to give them food.”


*** ARCHIVES ***

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 10 February 2020]

CHILDREN - The state provides 11 years of free compulsory education for all children. However, in the past some children were denied educational opportunities and subjected to punishments and disadvantages as a result of the loyalty classification system and the principle of "collective retribution" for the transgressions of family members.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 4 June 2004

[accessed 14 December 2010]

[58] The Committee is concerned that, according to the State party information, there are some children from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that cross the borders and apparently live on the streets of some Chinese cities close to the border which they cross. The Committee is deeply concerned at the information that children and their families who return or are deported back to the State party are considered not as victims, but as perpetrators of a crime.

Committee on Rights of Child Considers Report of Democratic People's Republic of Korea

[Article headline is mislabeled South Korea]

United Nations Press Release, 1 June 2004

[accessed 24 July 2011]

The situation of street children was a new phenomenon in the country, the delegation said. Many of the children came from mountainous regions after having escaped from their families. Those street children were taken care of by the State and were sent to institutions where they could get vocational training.

Chinese Websites Expose inside Photos of North Korea

Han Young Jin, Daily NK, 2006-08-24

[accessed 28 June 2011]

Recently, inside photos of melancholic North Korean people and starving street children are rampantly spreading throughout hundreds of Chinese internet sites including sonic BBS, and sinotrip.

Street kids at Jangmadang live by begging and eating food scraps. In order to remove street children, on September 27th 2001, Kim Jong Il directed street children be accommodated at ‘9.27 institution.’ However, the institution was uniformly controlled by local authorities and as a result was ultimately established as a national women’s inn.

Although world food organizations of each country assist with food rations, supplies must surpass regulations. Food assistance that should be distributed to the people is being sold at Jangmadang.

Action Against Hunger Stops Its Activities In North Korea

Action Against Hunger, 10 Mar 2000

[accessed 28 June 2011]

3/ Most of the malnutrition cases witnessed by our team was amongst children with no access to any facilities. Those who were especially hard hit were the « street children », many of whom were between 3 and 4 years old, and found wandering alone, while visibly very weak and fighting to collect food.

Japanese TV Airs Interview with NK Foster Children

Life Funds for North Korean Refugees LFNKR,  2002

[accessed 28 June 2011]

"A boy, about 15, lies dead on the street. All his belongings are gone." So begins the documentary.  But not all street children die in North Korea. Some flee, seeking a better life -- or at least survival.

Prison Video from North Korea

One Free Korea, January 15, 2005

[accessed 28 June 2011]

another file, entitled North Korea (link) shows the previously released video of the street children and the roadside prostitution trial.

Documentary: "Children of the Closed State"

Azgar Ishkildin, Prima News Agency, 2.8.2001

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 28 June 2011]

They pick up grains of rice and kernels of corn and suck on discarded fish bones. Around them, Western humanitarian aid is bought and sold-American corn, wheat from the Red Cross, rice. The price for the wheat, written on a piece of cardboard, is 80 won per kilogram. That is the average monthly wage of a North Korean worker. Most of the customers are members of the military.

Protection Project Report - North Korea [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

Street children from North Korea are a growing problem in China. They are often the first to be rounded up during the periodic crackdowns in China. Those lucky enough to make it to third countries, such as South Korea, are found to have suffered serious trauma from being raped, confined, or beaten in China.

North Koreans Starved Of Right To Food

Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Washington DC, Jan 22, 2004

[accessed 28 June 2011]

The lack of access to food has had the greatest impact on children, because of both malnutrition and the loss of parents who have died of malnutrition or related illness. Unconfirmed reports have said hundreds of orphans are now living in institutions or have become street children, without access to food aid or state protection.

2005 Annual Report for North Korea

Amnesty International USA, 2005

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 28 June 2011]

NORTH KOREAN ASYLUM-SEEKERS IN ASIA - The CRC expressed concern at reports of North Korean street children in Chinese border towns. It was also deeply concerned at reports that children (and their families) returning or deported back to North Korea were considered not as victims, but as perpetrators of a crime.

All material used herein reproduced under the fair use exception of 17 USC § 107 for noncommercial, nonprofit, and educational use.  PLEASE RESPECT COPYRIGHTS OF COMPONENT ARTICLES.  Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Street Children – DPRK (North Korea)",, [accessed <date>]