Last edited: May 2005
Summary and Analysis
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea acceded to the CRC on September 21, 1990. According to UNICEF's October 2003 report, “Analysis of the Situation of Children and Women in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea,” the DPRK took formal steps to implement the CRC by enacting the Civil Law in September 1990 and the Family Law in October 1990. The UNICEF Report explains: “The Civil Law defined children as persons below the age of 17 years and established equal civil rights for adults and children, and adopted standards of civil responsibility for children. The Family Law obligates the State to pay primary attention to providing the material conditions for mothers to bring up and educate children soundly.” No provisions in the Family Law or the Children's Law directly address the representation of children in child protective proceedings.
Very little reliable information exists about child abuse in North Korea. As the U.S. Department of State's 2003 Human Rights Report notes: “Information about societal or familial abuse of children is unavailable. There were reports of trafficking in young girls among persons crossing the border into China.” The Human Rights Report conjectures, however, that “[i]n practice, children did not enjoy any more civil liberties than adults,” pointing out that “[t]he U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child has repeatedly expressed concern over de facto discrimination against children with disabilities and the insufficient measures taken by the state to ensure that these children had effective access to health, education, and social services, and to facilitate their full integration into society.”
While the North Korean government has adopted some laws relating to children's rights, it is unclear whether it has actually enforced these laws, especially in the midst of economic depression and widespread famine. As the UNICEF Report states: “The DPRK's policy framework related to children is extremely comprehensive. However, its realization is contingent on intensive investment in multiple sectors and layers of institutions. Economic constraints have, in effect, led to under-investment raising questions about institutional capacity to deliver on children's entitlements.”
The DRPK has submitted two periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. In its First Periodic Report, the DPRK stated:
54. In special legal actions, the opinion of a child is to be considered carefully. Article 31, paragraph 2, of the Family Law stipulates that, when a child of more than six years of age is to be adopted, his or her agreement is needed. According to the Law on Nationality, the nationality of a child may be changed only with his or her agreement.
In its Second Periodic Report, the DPRK stated:
57. … Minors are entitled to give testimony in court, in civil and criminal cases. . . . Article 147 of the Criminal Proceedings Act states: “The questioning of a witness under the age of 14 should be attended by a teacher, parent, guardian, or other protector.” These provisions are intended to ease the possible psychological tension of a minor.” Article 32, paragraph 3, of the Civil Proceedings Act states: “The minor and invalid shall perform the act of litigating through parents or a guardian.” This means that a minor's act of civil litigation is conducted only by parents or a guardian. But in lodging complaints and seeking redress before a court or other relevant authority a minor does not necessarily need to be represented by parents or a guardian. This is guaranteed by the Law on Complaints and Petitions. By virtue of the above-mentioned legislation, a minor may participate in all civil and criminal proceedings as a witness or an interested party.
82. Various measures have been taken to ensure the right of the child to express views in a manner consistent with his or her evolving capacities. In most of the families, children have no problem expressing their views. The population administrative bodies paid a great deal of attention to whether or not adopted children or children in foster placement had any trouble in their freedom of expression.
83. The legislation concerning the opportunity for a child to speak in a court of law or intervene in legal proceedings is mentioned in paragraph 55 of the initial report. There has not been any case of restricting access to such legislation during the reporting period.
86. … There were many cases in which judicial decisions were made on the basis of the views of the child obtained through consultation and complaints made by him/her.
In response to this Second Report, the Committee concluded:
The Committee encourages the State party to ensure that children's views are given due consideration, in accordance with article 12 of the Convention, in the family, at schools, in the courts, and in all relevant administrative and other procedures concerning them. This should be undertaken through, inter alia, the adoption of appropriate legislation and policies, the training of professionals, awareness-raising of the public at large and establishment of specific creative and informal activities in and outside schools.
Sources of Law
Civil Proceedings Act
Article 32, paragraph 3
The minor and invalid shall perform the act of litigating through parents or a guardian.
If a minor is called to the box, the court shall allow the parents, guardian [and] teacher . . . patron to attend.
Criminal Proceedings Act
The questioning of a witness under the age of 14 should be attended by a teacher, parent, guardian or other protector.
Local Contact Information
Legal Information Center on North Korea, Kookmin University
College of Law, Kookmin Univ., 861-1, Chongnung-dong, Songbuk-gu, Seoul, 136-702 Korea
Additional Resources and Links
Official Government site, http://www.korea-dpr.com/
CRC/C/65/Add.24 Second Periodic Reports of States Parties Due in 1997 Addendum: DPRK (Nov. 5, 2003), available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/765bac912be20436c1256e20003995d9/
CRC/C/15/Add.239 Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: DPRK (July 1, 2004), available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/f3e657f64ba51b31c1256eef002eeba2/
U.S. Dep't of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2003 (Feb. 25, 2004), available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27775.htm.
UNICEF DPRK, Analysis of the Situation of Children and Women in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (Oct. 2003), available at http://www.unicef.org/dprk/situationanalysis.pdf.
 Id. at 17-18.
 Id. at 18.
 U.S. Dept. of State, Korea, Democratic People's Republic of: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Feb. 2004, available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27775.htm.
 These translations are taken from CRC/C/65/Add.24 Second Periodic Reports of States Parties Due in 1997 Addendum: DPRK (Nov. 5, 2003), available at http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/765bac912be20436c1256e20003995d9/$FILE/G0344870.pdf
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