North Korea has insisted the young people working in factories, coal mines, farms, and large construction projects want to be there.

Questions have been asked about whether the hermit kingdom is conscripting children into forced labour.

But the country has hit back and said these orphaned young people have signed up for the duty.

North Korea’s state news agency KCNA said the teens who graduate middle school have ‘volunteered to work in difficult fields’.

The news agency said: “[The graduates of orphan schools] volunteered to work in major worksites for socialist construction out of their will to glorify their youth in the struggle for the prosperity of the country. They finished their school courses under the warm care of the mother Party.”

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

While there was no confirmation of how old they were, the 700 graduates appeared to be teenagers based off the photos published in the state newspapers.

This is on top of the country’s already strict regime for 16 and 17-year-olds.

A report from the US State Department last found these teenagers would be enrolled in ‘military-style construction brigades for 10-year periods and subjected to long working hours and hazardous work’, according to NBC.

The document stated: “Students suffered from physical and psychological injuries, malnutrition, exhaustion, and growth deficiencies as a result of required forced labour.”

North Korea has denied the assertion. But the country has revealed how it’s cracking down on Western influence by banning certain fashion trends.

Dictator Kim Jong-un banned skinny jeans, mullet hairstyles and lip piercings to prevent citizens replicating ‘exotic and decadent’ western lifestyles.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

He’s also banned ripped jeans, slogan T-shirts and nose rings because he feels they are all representations of a capitalist society.

According to South Korean media, the ruling was laid bare in the North Korean newspaper Rondong Sinmun.

It wrote: “History teaches us a crucial lesson that a country can become vulnerable and eventually collapse like a damp wall regardless of its economic and defence power if we do not hold on to our own lifestyle.

“We must be wary of even the slightest sign of the capitalistic lifestyle and fight to get rid of them.”

North Korea has been able to control what its citizens look like for years thanks to a series of measures designed to keep the status quo.

There are 15 ‘socialist approved’ haircuts that everyone must pick from when they go to the salon or barber.

Don’t even think about trying to get a mohawk or rainbow coloured highlights put in because it will be refused by the hairdresser.

Also recently, North Koreans have been told they can’t consume Western magazines or videos.

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