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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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Children of Mothers With Diabetes Are Likely To Suffer From Heart Diseases, Says Study

The researchers also found higher rates for specific types of CVD children of mothers with diabetes

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Diabetes
Diabetes was categorised as pregestational (before pregnancy) or gestational (during pregnancy) and women with diabetic complications were identified in the Study. Pixabay

Children of mothers with diabetes have increased rates of early onset cardiovascular disease or CVD (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels) from childhood up to the age of 40, the researchers have warned.

The increased rates were more pronounced among children of mothers with a history of CVD or diabetic complications, said the study published in the journal The BMJ.

“Our study provides evidence that children of mothers with diabetes, especially those with a history of CVD or with diabetic complications, had increased rates of early onset CVD throughout the early decades of life,” said study researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark.

If this association is shown to be causal, preventing, screening, and treating diabetes in women of childbearing age could be important not only for improving the health of the women but also for reducing long term risks of CVD in their offspring, the researchers added

The number of women diagnosed with diabetes before or during pregnancy has increased globally, and children of these women are more likely to have risk factors for future CVD, such as high blood pressure and high blood sugar levels. It is unclear, however, whether or to what extent exposure to diabetes in the womb increases the risk of developing CVD in offspring over a lifetime.

So an international team of researchers set out to evaluate associations between diabetes diagnosed before or during pregnancy and early onset CVD in children during their first four decades of life. They base their findings on national registry data for over 2.4 million children born without congenital heart disease in Denmark from 1977 to 2016.

Diabetes was categorised as pregestational (before pregnancy) or gestational (during pregnancy) and women with diabetic complications were identified.

Diabetes
Children of mothers with diabetes have increased rates of early onset cardiovascular disease or CVD (conditions affecting the heart or blood vessels) from childhood up to the age of 40, the researchers have warned. Pixabay

Other potentially influential factors, such as mother’s age, education, lifestyle and medical history were also taken into account. During up to 40 years of follow-up, children of mothers with diabetes had a 29 per cent increased overall rate of early onset CVD compared with children of mothers who did not have diabetes (cumulative risks: 17.8 per cent vs 13.1 per cent ).

The researchers also found higher rates for specific types of CVD children of mothers with diabetes, particularly heart failure (45 per cent), hypertensive disease (78 per cent), deep vein thrombosis (82 per cent), and pulmonary embolism (91 per cent).

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Increased rates were seen in each age group in childhood (before 20 years of age) and early adulthood (from 20 to 40 years of age), regardless of the type of diabetes they were exposed to (pregestational or gestational) and rates were similar for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the study said. (IANS)