Session on Violence Against Children
Thank you for having us here to discuss this incredibly important issue. Today, I will be addressing the specific issue of violence against children as it pertains to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Under the thumb of the government, children are forced to work the fields after their daily classes. The labor of children is also exploited for the building of infrastructure. Defector testimonies describe being forced during their childhood to move bricks and break up rocks in the construction of railroads.
Additionally, these testimonies have detailed violence against children in schools. Oftentimes, this violence comes as a result of children failing to meet the demands of what is called the ‘Children’s Initiative’ or Go-ma-gae-huek; that is, the collection of various materials such as rabbit skins and scrap metal for their schools and government. There have been instances of children being beaten, slapped, or otherwise physically punished for being unable to provide these supplies
Children are also subject to severe psychological abuse. As part of the Saeng-hwal-chong-hwa program, children are trained to inform on each other from an early age. They are pressured to divulge the thoughts or actions of their classmates, some of which may not even be true. Students who do not adequately perform their duties for the Children’s Initiative are ostracized by their peers. These abuses condition children for a lifetime of paranoia and indoctrination.
Violence enacted against children, whether it is through forced labor or abuses, is inexcusable. We must do our best to force the North Korean government to be held accountable for the abuse of its most vulnerable citizens.