Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Democratic People's Republic of Korea
|Publisher||Child Soldiers International|
|Cite as||Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2001 - Democratic People's Republic of Korea, 2001, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/49880602c.html [accessed 19 June 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Mainly covers the period June 1998 to April 2001 as well as including some earlier information.
– total: 23,702,000
– under-18s: 7,560,000
- Government armed forces:
– active: 1,082,000
– reserves: 4,700,000
– paramilitary (active): 189,000
- Compulsory recruitment age: 17 or 18 (unclear)
- Voluntary recruitment age: 16
- Voting age (government elections): 17
- Child soldiers: indicated in government forces
- CRC-OP-CAC: not signed
- Other treaties ratified: CRC; GC/API
- There are indications of under-18s in government armed forces. Children are militarised from an early age through military and ideological training in camps and clubs.
Although there is currently no armed conflict in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, no peace treaty has been signed with the Republic of Korea and the two states technically remain at war. The demilitarised zone between North and South Korea is among the most heavily fortified in the world and the scene of sporadic incursions and skirmishes. A brief gun battle was fought in 1999 by South and North Korean navies for the first time since the Korean war. Contact has increased in recent years, culminating in a first summit of the two heads of state in 2000.
National Recruitment Legislation and Practice
According to Article 58 of the 1972 Constitution, "the Democratic People's Republic of Korea rests on the people's nationwide defence system." Article 86 states that: "National defence is the supreme duty and honour of citizens. Citizens shall defend the country and serve in the army as required by law". According to Article 85, "citizens shall constantly increase their revolutionary vigilance and devotedly fight for the security of the State."1038
Military service is reportedly performed by all men between the ages of 18 and 24.1039 According to US sources, military service lasts for five to eight years in the Army, five to ten years in the Navy, and three to four years in the Air Force. Active service is followed by part-time service in the military reserves or service in the Worker and Peasant Red Guard until the age of 60.1040 The system was reportedly revised in 1996 to require service until the age of 30 for men and 26 for women or 28 in the case of women officers. The government has also introduced a system of "labour service", whereby an individual may be exempted from military service for six to seven years' labour at mines or other workplaces.1041
Contradictory information is provided in the government's 1996 report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, which asserts that military service is strictly voluntary as provided by the Constitution (although the Constitution itself seems to provide for compulsory military service) and that the minimum voluntary recruitment age is 16.1042 During the hearings of the Committee, the government delegation claimed that the minimum age for military service is 17, adding that "after school and vocational training, young persons could volunteer to join the army, but as they had to meet high standards of physical fitness and development, they were often over 18 before they were allowed to start active service."1043
In addition to military service within the regular armed forces, citizens are also mobilised two or three times through various institutions. All citizens are obliged to serve in several paramilitary bodies including the Worker and Peasant Red Guard, which was created in January 1959. It has units in every town, village, neighbourhood, college and workplace. In wartime, the Worker and Peasant Red Guard is required to wage guerrilla war against the occupiers. All people must have "a rifle in one hand and a hammer or sickle in the other, keeping an alert and standing posture."1044 All paramilitary troops are provided with arms and hold joint exercises with the regular armed forces.1045
It is not known how many children are recruited annually into the DPRK armed forces each year, nor how many are currently serving within its ranks.
Military Training and Military Schools
There is reportedly widespread militarisation of youth from a young age in North Korea. The Red Guard Youth is an institution targeted specifically towards youth. It was created in 1970 and is regarded as a spiritual guide and mentor to the worker and peasant guard and has units in every high school. All high school students between the age of 14 and 16 receive basic military training within this guard. Moreover, it has been reported that North Korean students spend two months each summer in camps that combine military training with ideological studies.1046
1038 Constitution of 27/12/72, as revised on 9/4/92.
1039 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.
1040 US Department of Defence, North Korea Country Book, Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, Quantico, VA, 5/97.
1042 Initial Report of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/3/Add. 41, 17/6/96, para. 191.
1043 Summary Records of the 458th meeting, UN Doc. CRC/C/SR.458, 26/5/98, para. 37.
1044 "Worker-peasant red guards 41 years old", Korean Central News Agency, 14/1/0000.
1045 Horeman and Stolwijk op. cit.
1046 Centre for Non-proliferation Studies, Institute for Contemporary International Problems, The DPRK Report, No. 10, November – December 1997.