North Korean society is changing, and physical violence in schools is being less tolerated, according to a South Korea-based rights group. File Photo by How Hwee Young/EPA-EFE
Nov. 27 (UPI) -- North Korea's "Gen Z" is different from previous generations owing to increased exposure to South Korean entertainment media, according to a human rights group in the South.
South Korea-based human rights group People Working Toward Successful Unification, also known as Seongtong Mansa, issued a report on child abuse in North Korea, Yonhap reported Wednesday.
Physical and sexual violence are endemic problems in the North but expectations about corporal punishment are changing.
Reasons include the "falling birth rate," and government policies that "punish schoolteachers" who hit their students for infractions, the group said.
The report includes a survey of more than 150 defectors resettled in the South. At least one respondent said North Korean "children's exposure to romantic television dramas from South Korea" have led to a decrease in violence.
"The current generation, unlike previous generations, see violence as old-fashioned," one defector said.
The viewing of South Korean media is banned in the North and is a punishable offense, but a crackdown on media has not stopped it from circulating in North Korea.
About 19 percent of the respondents in the survey were identified as being born between 1997 and 2013, and 39 percent belonged to a group born between 1981 and 1996 -- a mix of North Korean "millennials" and Gen Z respondents.
A defector who once worked as a teacher in the North said corporal punishment declined in the 2000s, the first decade after a catastrophic famine may have killed more than a million people.
Other defectors said sexual abuse of children remains a "serious" problem in the North, and that sex abusers go unpunished in the country. Respondents said the lack of proper sex education in schools is part of the problem.
North Korean society has not changed its military stance since summits between Kim Jong Un and world leaders in 2018.
Choson Sinbo, a pro-Pyongyang paper in Japan published by North Korea's de facto embassy, said Wednesday Pyongyang must strengthen nuclear deterrence because of the "U.S. nuclear threat."
Kim last met with President Donald Trump in June.