Thank you, Mr. President,
First, I would like to thank the newly-appointed Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana for his interest and support in the improvement of North Korean issues.
Today I would like to address the issue of children’s rights in North Korea. In its reports to the UNCRC, the North Korean government holds in high regard its system of free education, but in reality, the government’s highest priority is the idolization of its leaders and to foster its youth into a means of preserving its current system of government.
The children’s rights laws of the North Korean government strictly prohibit the exploitation of children under the age of 16, but they are in no way being practiced. Every year, children older than 14 across the country are forcibly dispatched to farms in rural areas for a month-long “agricultural labor support” program.
Under the government’s directives, children are exploited in numerous areas of the nation’s infrastructure development, such as the construction of schools and other buildings. Recently, there have also been a number of cases of Chinese companies ordering goods, like hair accessories and eye-lash extensions, from the North Korean government in an effort to secure foreign investment. Children are chosen for this meticulous work simply because they have small fingers.
Despite severe famine and human rights violations by the government, North Korean children present a façade of happiness that has been drilled into them by the government. We greatly hope for measures to be taken to compel the North Korean government to honor the rights of children and to create an environment where they can truly be happy.