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Two unfortunate teenagers the talk of the town in Sinuiju

Sinuiju residents are talking about two teenagers who ended up on the streets after their mother was imprisoned for non-socialist behavior, Daily NK has learned.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in North Pyongan Province told Daily NK on Monday that the teenagers enjoyed a prosperous lifestyle just two years ago, but recently became beggars due to a sudden change in circumstances.

The siblings’ father died four years ago and their mother, surnamed Lee, is currently serving a five-year prison sentence.

Lee had an illegal Chinese-made cell phone that she used in her work as a remittance broker. Because of her extensive connections in China, she was able to process more remittances and bring in larger sums of money than other brokers. She made enough money to provide her children with an enviable level of prosperity, despite having to raise them alone.

Even during the pandemic, Lee and her children experienced no major financial hardships, which proved to be their undoing. At a time when many were struggling to put food on the table, the family’s apparent affluence led someone to tip off the police and state security agents, who soon placed the family under close surveillance.

In January 2023, Lee was followed by state security agents when she attempted to deliver money to the family members of defectors and was caught red-handed. The agents immediately searched her home, where they found a Chinese-made cell phone and foreign currency, including U.S. dollars and Chinese yuan.

Lee was arrested and her illegal phone and cash were confiscated. After an investigation, she was sentenced to five years in prison and put behind bars.

Teens wander the streets for food

The siblings were then placed in the care of a maternal uncle. The uncle sold Lee’s house and used the proceeds to care for the siblings. But after the money ran out, his wife began to complain about the siblings every day. Tired of being a burden to their uncle, the siblings finally left his house and took to the streets.

“At the moment, the siblings go to the houses of people they know and beg for food. But that will only take them so far, and they may end up starving to death. People who know the siblings’ situation feel very sorry for them,” the source said.

“No wonder people say you should just live for the moment because death could be lurking around every corner. People are afraid that even if they’re making good money now, they could end up like the Lee family. The reality for North Koreans is that life is a ticking time bomb.”

Translated by David Carruth. 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

February 21, 2024 at 12:30PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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