Kotchebi (Homeless Children) are Equals
“Blind Spot: Street Children Excluded from Human Rights because They are the Weakest.”
In North Korea, children are promoted as "kings of the country." Is this in line with the reality? According to KidsRights Foundation’s research in 2019, North Korea ranked 122nd in the field of child human rights, with Gabon, Paraguay, Rwanda, and Ghana side by side. If we look into the details, North Korea ranked 99th in the children’s right to live, 104th in the children’s right to health, and 142th in the children’s right to humane environment.
The human rights abuses experienced by North Korean children include labor exploitation, hunger, deprivation of educational rights, and violence experienced in concentration camps after repatriation. Then, there are children who are in a worse position. These are street homeless orphan children who are called “kotchebi”. Most kotchebi children are left unattended because their parents starved to death or are no longer able to care for their children. When Kim Jong-un took office, these children were forced into a so-called “shelter” because they hurt the “street beauty” standards. Children between the ages of four and seventeen live in physical labor and custodian violence under strict surveillance in buildings with broken windows.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that people under 18 years of age are children. However, North Korea rules that only people up to 16-year-old are children. Even if one is deemed children, they are unable to maintain their rights, experiencing exploitation and forced labor. We hope to find these children the right to freely run, learn and be happy.