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Sell Charcoal to Buy Food: North Korean Children on Street To Support Themselves

“The children are so diligent and determined. People are astonished because they are out on the streets even before the roosters have crowed, shouting ‘charcoal for sale!” said the source.

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Children hold flowers as they pay their respects before the giant bronze statues of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il during the anniversary of the end of World War II and liberation from Japanese colonial rule in Pyongyang, North Korea on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018. North Korea has marked the anniversary with a series of ceremonies ahead of what is expected to be a much bigger event next month, the 70th anniversary of its national foundation day. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)RFERL

North Korean teenagers in some areas of the country are giving up their studies to take menial jobs because their parents cannot adequately provide for them, while authorities who know about the problem aren’t taking any steps to help, sources in affected areas said.

A source from South Pyongan province told RFA’s Korean Service in an interview Thursday that hungry teens are turning to peddling charcoal used for cooking to support themselves.

“Recently in provincial cities, including Pyongsong, there has been a sudden increase in the number of teenagers selling charcoal for a living,” the source said.

“With the money their parents make, eating three meals a day is difficult, so they become street peddlers.”

Peddling charcoal is a fairly easy business to get into, because it can be done by practically everyone and it requires no seed money, the source explained.

“Kids who sell the charcoals are mostly middle school and high school students. Some of them are elementary school students who are not even 10 years old,” the source said.

But the source noted that although getting into the business is easy, the job itself is not.

“They carry bags of charcoal much bigger than they are, on their back, and they start selling it from dawn,” the source said, adding, “Then they will walk more than 4 kilometers (about 2.5 miles) to get more charcoal so they can sell it the next day, then walk back home. It’s really hard work,” said the source.

charcoal
“You can see the teenagers selling charcoal very early in the morning in residential areas of the rural communities near Ryongchon town,” said the source. Pixabay

“These kids have to sell all the charcoal they have if they want to buy food for the next day, so even before dawn they are walking around the densely populated neighborhood with their charcoal bags on their back,” the source said. According to the source the kids can sell the charcoal for 1,500 North Korean won (19 cents) per kilo.

The source said that the best time to sell charcoal is in the morning, because this is when housewives need to start preparing food for the day before they go to the local market.

“They walk around shouting “Charcoal for sale!” in the neighborhoods at 5am, breaking the silence of apartments and residences, and stirring up sympathy.”

While charcoal is a needed commodity, it is the sympathy for the children that most likely drives sales.

“People in the neighborhood feel pity, so they come down from their apartment to buy charcoal from these children,” said a second source from North Pyongan province.

“You can see the teenagers selling charcoal very early in the morning in residential areas of the rural communities near Ryongchon town,” said the source.

The source said that the locals are amazed at the work ethic of the charcoal-selling teens.

“The children are so diligent and determined. People are astonished because they are out on the streets even before the roosters have crowed, shouting ‘charcoal for sale!” said the source.

“When a customer lives on a high floor of an apartment building, the children tell them they will deliver it to their door. Even for customers who buy only a kilogram, the children will walk up all the stairs,” the source said, adding “They’ll do anything for the money.”

charcoal
“They walk around shouting “Charcoal for sale!” in the neighborhoods at 5am, breaking the silence of apartments and residences, and stirring up sympathy.” Pixabay

But as impressed as the people might be with the enterprising youth, they are angry that economic conditions are forcing the youth to work so hard just to eat.

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“People are resentful against the government because these are children who need to [be at school] trying to achieve their dreams, but here they are selling charcoal or doing other kinds of day-to-day labor,” the source said.

“Meanwhile the government makes false propaganda that North Korean children are living healthy happy lives.” (RFA)

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Pit Bulls, Mixed Breed as Dogs Most Likely to Bite Children: Study

Researchers have found that Pit Bulls and mixed breed dogs have the highest risk of biting

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Study, Pit bulls, Mixed Breeds
The purpose of this study was to evaluate dog bites in children. Pixabay

If you have kids at home, it is wiser to be careful with the pets. Researchers have found that Pit Bulls and mixed breed dogs have the highest risk of biting and cause the most damage per bite.

Parents should also avoid dogs with wide and short heads, weighing 30-45 kg, suggested the study published in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.

“The purpose of this study was to evaluate dog bites in children, and we specifically looked at how breed relates to bite frequency and bite severity,” said study lead author Garth Essig from Ohio State University in the US.

“Because mixed breed dogs account for a significant portion of bites, and we often didn’t know what type of dog was involved in these incidents. We looked at additional factors that may help predict bite tendency when breed is unknown, like weight and head shape,” Essig said.

Study, Pit bulls, Mixed Breeds
If you have kids at home, it is wiser to be careful with the pets. Pixabay

To assess bite severity, researchers reviewed 15 years of dog-related facial trauma cases and looked at wound size, tissue tearing, bone fractures and other injuries severe enough to warrant consultation by a facial trauma and reconstructive surgeon and created a damage severity scale.

They also performed an extensive literature search from 1970 to the present for dog bite papers that reported breed to determine relative risk of biting from a certain breed. This was combined with hospital data to determine relative risk of biting and average tissue damage of bite.

“Young children are especially vulnerable to dog bites because they may not notice subtle signs that a dog may bite,” said Charles Elmaraghy, Associate Professor at the varsity.

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The circumstances that cause a dog to bite vary and may be influenced by breed behaviour tendencies and the behaviour of the victim, parents and dog owner, said the study. (IANS)