Children and the elderlies have been the biggest victims of the economic difficulty in North Korea. The social welfare system in North Korea–such as health care and medical service for elderlies–is entirely dysfunctional, in contrast to its excellent portrayal in propaganda. In fact, I saw a number of old people dying in North Korea. The state, the society, and even family have abandoned them since they are not useful as a laborer and become a burden to feed. (Paek Chang-ryong)
In 2013 spring, an old woman–wearing shabby clothes–was walking in tears in a northern border area.
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Reporter: Excuse me, ma’am, is your home near here?
Woman: I live here but I do not have a home.
Reporter: So where do you sleep?
Woman: At night, I work as a security guard at “Inminban,” neighborhood units. So I sleep in a guard house.
Reporter: Do you have access to food ration?
Woman: Of course not.
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In North Korea, there are few state-owned care facilities for elderlies. Based on the social classification system, however, they are primarily for revolutionary soldiers–those who joined the anti-Japanese struggle and the Korean War–and high-ranking government officials. Ordinary elderlies have no access to the social welfare system. If no one can take care of them, they have to go on a street to earn money in order to survive by using their old bodies.
◆ June 2013, a local city in a northern part of North Korea.
A skinny old man was siting on the street and fixing a plastic product. He lamented “the tiny amount of food ration is not enough to survive.” The social welfare system is totally debilitated. He tries to earn cash out of fixing products at a stall.
Reporter: How much do you earn in a day?
Man: Not so much.
Reporter: But you still get food ration, right?
Man: I hardly get one.
Reporter: How much food ration can you get a per month?
Man: I do not know. It is not enough to feed myself.
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