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N. Korean teenage thieves skip school to rob elderly vendors

Teenage thieves have recently been robbing elderly street vendors in Pyongsong, South Pyongan Province, Daily NK has learned.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, a source in South Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Wednesday that “teenagers in Pyongsong have started robbing elderly street vendors instead of going to school.”

According to the source, some youths in the city leave home in the morning pretending to go to school but rob people instead.

The wayward youths focus on targeting older people engaged in street trading. They do this because they believe that the older merchants cannot chase and catch them because they are too frail and slow.

For example, in mid-February, five students from the same primary school class robbed a trader in her sixties who was selling cigarettes and food in an alley. They pushed her down, stole her merchandise, and ran away.

In another incident last month, teenagers robbed a street vendor in her 60s who was selling candy, rice crackers and cigarettes in the Yokjon area. The youths approached the merchant as if to buy something, knocked over her kiosk, picked up the scattered goods, and fled.

The source explained the reason for these frequent incidents: “When they go to school, their social burdens simply increase because they are given non-tax burdens every day instead of learning. So they don’t go to school. And even though they’re starving because of the difficulties at home, they can’t buy on credit because they’re too young, so they’ve started stealing.

“The teenagers give their parents the stolen items, which are worth selling, and tell them to use the money to support the family. Every parent in the world would be heartbroken to see their children stealing because of economic hardship. The parents must feel guilty when they see such things.”

He said one Pyongsong resident recently told neighbors how devastated he was when his child came home one day with two packs of cigarettes and asked him to sell them to buy rice.

The man said the child initially refused to answer where he got the cigarettes, but when he continued to press him, the child finally and reluctantly admitted that he had stolen them. The man said he would normally have given his child a good beating, but this time he could not say anything and just cried.

“In the past, you couldn’t even imagine children with parents at home – not kkotjebi – engaging in theft,” the source said, referring to homeless vagrants, especially homeless children. “People say the authorities need to take quick action to help people put food on the table, because things are getting so hard that children have started stealing to support their families.”

Translated by David Black. Edited by Robert Lauler.

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

Please send any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

Read in Korean

March 07, 2024 at 12:30PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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