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Homeless children forced to work in Tongrim prison camp ‘converted’ to orphanage

in ASIA/FAR EAST/PRESS RELEASE/REGIONS by

Daily NK has learned that the North Korean authorities converted the Tongrim Correctional Labor Camp (also known as Camp 2) in North Pyongan Province into an orphanage last year. Prisoners formerly housed in Camp 2 were allegedly moved to the Kaechon Correctional Labor Camp (Camp 1) in South Pyongan Province two years prior, which was expanded by the authorities to increase its capacity. A source in North Pyongan Province informed Daily NK on November 5 that “the efforts are part of Kim Jong Un’s stated aim of showing the nation’s ‘love for its children.’ Starting last year, the authorities began rounding up homeless children – commonly seen near markets, train stations, and main roads – and have sent them to the Tongrim site”. The authorities then established the orphanage in 2016. But instead of remodeling the facilities to resemble an actual orphanage, it appears that the children were moved into the very same conditions to which prisoners were subjected prior to the so-called conversion.  “In all likelihood, the regime will attempt to improve the facilities later when relations with China improve and when more tourists begin flooding the area. They may turn the orphanage into a propaganda showpiece, ultimately hoping to convince international investors of their positive progress”, a separate source in North Pyongan Province said. He added that the authorities are also likely to be using the orphanage to funnel youths into military conscription, nothing that “dozens of kids, barely even 17 years old, were taken from the orphanage this past April and forced into Construction Brigades – military units tasked with building projects – regardless of their health status or physical ability”.

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