North Korea’s Central Committee recently disseminated orders to each province to “practically implement model child-care policies” as the country faces a continued decline in birthrates.

A source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Sept. 14, “[The Central Committee] recently ordered the provincial party committees and people’s committees to account for and report [the number of] new mothers at maternity hospitals and hospitals in the provinces. Inminban (people’s units) must also account for families raising children under five years of age.” 

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, married young people experiencing financial difficulties in North Korea are reluctant to have children due to the burdens of child rearing. Moreover, many people in the country are unable to properly feed their children, many of whom suffer from malnutrition. 

In provinces that border China, there has been a rapid decline in birth rate due to the continued closure of the Sino-North Korean border. Daily NK’s source said that North Korean authorities need to create an environment where young couples feel comfortable about having children. 

North Korean women bikes support
In this undated photo, North Korean women are seen on bikes near Sakju County, North Pyongan Province. / Image: Daily NK

In fact, North Korean authorities emphasized in the recent order that provinces need to “place trust in the party’s child-rearing policies” and create an environment where people feel they can have children without issues, the source said, adding, “Each province has been ordered to account for new mothers and children and provide supplies as needed.” 

Additionally, North Korea’s leadership has ordered provincial party committees and provincial people’s committees to account for undernourished children who are underweight for their age and have them hospitalized with their mothers, Daily NK’s source explained.

North Korea’s government has also instructed organizations and businesses to supply new mothers and children under five years of age with processed foods, including dairy products, at state-set prices once per week. Supplies of these goods began in Yanggang Province on Sept. 7, according to the source. 

“This program is to be reviewed by the party on a monthly basis and if any problems arise, the government has ordered that measures be taken quickly,” the source said, adding, “Currently, mothers are pleased with the government’s policy of giving out dairy products once a week and three kilograms of yogurt once per month.”

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

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.