North Korea

Back to the map with all countries
CountryNorth Korea
Optional protocolon the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography
Corporal punishmentCorporal Punishment is legal in the home, alternative care settings, day care and possibly schools.
Overview of the child rights situation

The report from Democratic People's Republic of Korea makes clear that the effects of the economic sanctions mentioned by the delegation of the State party are reflected in the economic and social situation in the country and are having repercussions on children’s enjoyment of their rights. The strict regime of Democratic People's Republic of Korea is evident at various points. For example, children have to perform child labour as part of their education and are discriminated against because of the political views of their parents. The committee criticizes the fact that it is not possible to enter the country without fear of deprivation of liberty and death, and that there is no freedom of expression or religion in Democratic People's Republic of Korea, nor is there free access to information.

Female genital mutilation and reproductive rights

The Committee recommends that Democratic People's Republic of Korea adopt a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health policy for adolescents, which should include sexual and reproductive health as part of the mandatory school curriculum and target both girls and boys as well as ensure that all adolescents throughout the country have access to reproductive health services that are youth-sensitive and confidential.

Situation of children with disabilities

The Committee recommends, among other things, that the State party strengthen the measures taken and adopt a human rights-based approach to disability and set up a comprehensive strategy for the inclusion of children with disabilities. It further recommends to take account of all children under the age of 18, including those under the age of 5, in the collection of disaggregated data on children with disabilities, and develop an efficient system for diagnosing disability, with a view to putting in place appropriate policies and programmes for children with disabilities. Democratic People's Republic of Korea should also set up comprehensive measures to develop inclusive education and ensure that inclusive education is progressively prioritized over the placement of children in specialized institutions and classes, including for children with hearing and visual impairments, as well as train and assign specialized teachers and professionals in inclusive classes providing individual support for children’s learning requirements.

Situation of asylum-seeking, refugee and migrant childrenThe Committee urges the State party to provide all the necessary protection to returnee children and children of repatriated women who are citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in particular their right to life.
Free kindergartenNo
Free primary and secondary schoolNo
Digital possibilitiesThe Committee recommends that the State party promote children’s freedom of expression and diversity of views, and guarantee the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds either orally, in writing or in print, or through any other media, including the Internet.
physical health

To guarantee every child the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health, the Committee recommends to strengthen its efforts to reduce infant, child and maternal mortality rates and ensure that free or affordable medicine is available to all children throughout the territory, paying particular attention to rural and remote areas.
It further recommends to ensure adequate and continuous investment in health-related infrastructure and the training of health personnel.

Relation to other countries
mental health

The Committee recommends that the State party take measures to promote the availability of mental health services to children, taking into consideration their developmental needs.

Impacts of climate change

The Committee recommends that the State party in cases of climate-related emergencies that disrupt access to food, such as floods and droughts, provide children with immediate access to treatment for malnutrition. The state party should also increase children’s awareness of and preparedness for climate change and natural disasters by incorporating them into the school curriculum and teachers’ training programmes.

Business sector

While noting that national legislation prohibits child labour, and the State party’s position that child labour has been abolished, as children are required to attend only three weeks per year of “school practice”, the Committee remains seriously concerned about information on children being requested to perform extensive labour tasks that interfere with their education, physical and mental development and well-being. The Committee is further concerned about the practice of accepting children aged 16 and 17 to dolgyeokdae (military-style construction youth brigades) for 10-year periods, which entail long working hours and heavy physical work, and curtail children’s access to education. To improve the situation, the Committee recommends to take prompt measures to ensure that children are not requested to perform “economic assignments” as part of their education and ensure that all children are treated equally in this regard, independently of their economic situation. It also recommends to ensure that children are not forced to participate in mass agricultural mobilizations and put in place clear regulations on minimum age and limits on working hours for those who choose to participate. Democratic People's Republic of Korea should also ban the practice of assigning children under the age of 18 to dolgyeokdae and provide all children with equal opportunities to further their education.

Situation of juvenile justice

The Committee urges the State party to ensure that children are not in any way punished, sanctioned or detained for their parents’ crimes, and that children have regular contact with their detained parents if they so wish, including when parents are detained in political prison camps.

The Committee notes the information provided by the State party regarding the use of social education as a correctional measure for children between the ages of 14 and 17, but regrets the insufficient information on what it involves in practice. The Committee urges the State party to bring its juvenile justice system fully into accordance with the Convention and, in particular, to establish a specialized juvenile justice system and procedures, designate specialized judges and prosecutors and ensure that the specialized judges receive appropriate education and training and ensure free representation by qualified and independent lawyers for children in conflict with the law at an early stage of the procedure and throughout the legal proceedings, including during the execution of social education measures. The State party should further ensure that, when detention is unavoidable, it is for the shortest possible period of time, that it is reviewed on a regular basis with a view to its withdrawal, that children are not detained together with adults and that detention conditions are compliant with international standards, including with regard to access to education and health services. Furthermore, the Committee recommends that the State party establish an independent child-sensitive and accessible system for the reception and processing of complaints by children, investigate all complaints and prosecute and punish law enforcement personnel found guilty of perpetrating violations.

Specific observations

The Committee notes that children in the State party are guaranteed civil registration and access to nationality. The Committee recommends that the State party review its bilateral agreements to ensure that children born to mothers who are citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea residing outside the territory of the State party have access to birth registration and nationality without the children or their mothers being forcibly returned to the State party’s territory.

The Committee recommends that the State party take prompt measures to end discrimination against children based on the social status or political views of their parents.

Additional BackgroundConcluding observations on the fifth periodic report released on 23 October 2017.
Last Updated (date)27th of February, 2022