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Report: North Korea mothers turning to private daycare

By Elizabeth Shim
Report: North Korea mothers turning to private daycare
North Korean women pick up a delivery of beverages from Chinese men at their embassy in Beijing. Women with children in North Korea are increasingly turning to privatized care as they are emerging as the principle breadwinners of their families. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- The rise of unofficial markets in North Korea has created more moneymaking opportunities for North Korean women.

But in a country where the men of the household are expected to report to low-paying jobs at state-run factories and offices, women are not only emerging as the principal breadwinners in some families, they're also expected to take care of the children.

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The solution, according to recent defectors in South Korea, is an increasing reliance on privatized daycare, South Korean news service New Focus International reported on Friday.

North Korean mothers who must also work during the day prefer privatized daycare over other options, including leaving their children in empty homes, or entrusting them to state-run institutions.

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Public child services are available in North Korea, but "North Korean women are hesitant to send their children there," according to a North Korean defector identified by her surname Park.

Park said before she left North Korea she offered private daycare services, charging more for looking after small infants ranging from 6 to 24 months, than she did for children 4 or 5 years of age, according to the report.

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The defector said she would ask for about 2 pounds of rice a day for looking after an infant child.

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"Looking after children isn't easy, but I found it a lot easier than going out into the markets," Park said.

The trend is also a departure from previous practices, such as leaving children in the homes of grandparents, according to another defector identified by her surname Jeon.

"More women are opting for daycare because the operators of those services are usually well-educated, modern females. This way, they'd be assured of not only the safety of their children, but also their education."

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State-run daycare is losing its appeal to many mothers, according to the sources, because the institutions have subpar facilities, and "lack basic hygiene."

North Korea state media, however, has often used state-run kindergartens as examples of improved policy.

In early September, Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported improvements were made at state kindergartens after Kim Jong Un supplied the centers with a soy milk truck, according to Yonhap.

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