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Drawing of children

Denied Status, Denied Education

In the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in eastern Jilin province, northeast China, many North Korean children and children of Chinese fathers and North Korean mothers live in legal limbo. There is no official data estimating the number of such children living in the area, but local residents put the number at anywhere between a few thousand and several tens of thousands. The fieldwork  is based on interviews with 23 children of Korean women and 18 adults with firsthand knowledge of the conditions such children face (including parents, guardians, missionaries, and others). The results of the interviews show that many children are not registered under a household registration system called hukou and therefore, have no legal access to education, as schools require a copy of the hukou document for admission and continued schooling.

The further recommendations are provided in the report:

To the Chinese government:

  • Grant all children access to education without requiring proof of legal identity.
  • Allow hukou registration for all children with one Chinese parent without requiring verification of the identity of the other parent.
  • Stop arresting and repatriating North Koreans, especially children and women who have children with Chinese men.
  • Allow UNHCR access to North Koreans in China, including children, to determine their refugee status.
  • Ratify the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

To  the North Korean government:

  • Stop punishing North Koreans who leave, or attempt to leave, North Korea without state permission, including North Koreans who are repatriated to North Korea.
  • Repeal all laws that criminalize leaving the country without state permission, especially the criminal law provision that defines such travel as treason. Acknowledge the right to leave the country as a basic human right.


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Document information

Human Rights Watch


April 2008

Main theme(s):

Migration with Families

Sub-theme(s): South - South

Tertiary theme(s): Economic Forced Migration Reunification

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Keywords: Child welfare Coping strategies Country - China Deportation Discrimination Education Education Opportunity Employment Opportunity Ethnic discrimination Family Immigration Controls


Document Report