In early September, three primary school children participating in a practical education course in a mine in Komdok, South Hamgyong Province, were hit by a mine trolley, leaving one child dead and two severely injured, Daily NK learned on Wednesday.
The exact ages of the children in the accident are unknown. North Korean primary schools, which are similar to South Korean elementary schools and have five grades, educate children aged six to 10 years old. There is a high likelihood that the children involved in the accident were less than 10 years old.
A mine representative and a teacher were present to supervise the children, but the mine trolley came off the rails so suddenly that they were not able to stop it, Daily NK sources said.
“There was no chance to get out of the way of the mine trolley, which came flying forward, and ultimately one child died on the spot while the other two children were evacuated to the hospital after losing a significant amount of blood,” one of the sources said. The two surviving primary school children were reportedly in serious condition at a hospital in Hamhung, he added.
At the time of the incident, the teacher had been wearing a safety helmet and mask, but the students were in their school uniforms and had not been wearing any safety gear, another Daily NK source said.
Police in Komdok County and the party committee that oversees mining activities in the area launched an investigation into the cause of the incident but concluded that the manager responsible for the site was not at fault, the source added.
The parents of the children participating in the course are miners and the trip was a way for them to experience the mines firsthand in preparation for future jobs in the country’s mining industry. Students who undergo the course are also exempt from “farming education” during peak periods of the farming season.
The course included a visit to monuments erected to honor Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and time to observe the mining process.
Such incidents occur frequently during practical training field trips to the mines for primary school children, another Daily NK source in the region said. Last year there was an incident where a primary school student fell in the water while eating lunch by a pond at the entrance of a mine shaft and had to be rescued.
Locals near Komdok Mine have expressed their unhappiness about the circumstances of the accident and have even questioned whether young primary school students should go on educational field trips to the mines, the source added.
Last year, Daily NK reported that a public trial was held at Komdok Mine for zinc smugglers.
*Translated by Violet Kim
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