October 06, 2016 12:53
North Korea is forcing an estimate 400,000 young soldiers to do hard labor and confiscating up to US$900 million from ordinary people every year, an activist group here said Wednesday.
The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea, in a report based on in-depth interviews with 18 defectors, said middle school graduates who either have no connections in the Workers Party or perform poorly in physical tests are forced into hard labor at construction sites while training as commandos.
They must live in cramped shared accommodation and labor for around 10 years building roads, apartments, railways and power plants.
They spend around 10 years in service, laboring four hours in the morning and five in the afternoon for little or no pay. When pressed to meet deadlines, they labor until midnight and spend their breaks in indoctrination classes.
They are fed just one bowl of corn rice per meal, and beatings and accidents are rampant.
The report said North Korean officials demand cash bribes for letting people keep their jobs, while housewives and students are forced to cough up money by collecting and selling paper or animal feces that are used as fertilizer.
The group said the money North Korean officials extort amounts to around 20 percent of monthly living costs.
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