A very elderly woman–who is unable to speak properly–is selling food in a public square. August 2007, in Lelang District, Pyongyang. Taken by Lee Joon (ASIAPRESS)



According to videos filmed by ASIAPRESS reporting partners inside North Korea, a number of elderly women end up having to work instead of retire. They find work by starting businesses in market places.  In North Korea the social welfare system for the elderly and their children has collapsed which has led to a situation where even the adult children of the elderly are unable to take care of their parents, forcing the elderly to earn cash by themselves.

What the elderly can do for work is limited, mostly they sit on the street to sell cigarettes or food, they also collect empty glass bottles, cans, and plastic bottles.
Related article: The elderly Treated Useless in North Korea, the Land of Courtesy toward the Elderly

It is an unfortunate and grave reality that even the elderly cannot afford to feed themselves without earning money for the day. (Jiro Ishimaru)


Elderly women are seen collecting empty glass bottles and plastic bottles. Since recycling is widely practiced in North Korea, the elderly can earn a small amount of cash from collecting recyclables. August 2007, in Lelang District, Pyongyang. Taken by Lee Joon (ASIAPRESS)

Next page: An elderly woman is stuffing a knapsack with empty bottles that she has been collecting.