Do You Know the Shooting Game of North Korean Children?

Daily NK
Moon Sung Hwui

What do North Korean children do during the Chuseok?

They are not sponsored with computers or theme parks so they enjoy things like a game of slap-match or hide-and-seek like South Korean children back in 70s or 80s. Through the starvation phase, the North Korean have invented a new form of play called “Ceremonial Game” and “Shooting Game.”

Kim Ha Yeon, a North Korean defector originally from Shinuiju, said that the play that is popular among the children even before the Chuseok is called “Ceremonial Game.” Even the North Korean civilians were surprised with the games of children mocking and playing out what the adults have done in such uncanny manner.

Kim said, “As the Chuseok approached, children went around the village, making a mound of sand like that of a tomb and imitated their parents’ bowing. They also imitate their adults sobbing next to their tombs.”

‘It got so bad that this problem was raised during the meetings of the People’s Unit and the parents were told to take better care and control of their children from playing amiss games.”

Ceremonial Play: Making Tombs and Sobbing

It is not uncertain when this play was initiated. However, the reason why this ceremonial play was invented cannot be linked to the action of directly linking this as the culture of visits to ancestral graves.

Kim said, “It is sad that the children are making a death-ceremony into a type of a game – after they watched citizens die of starvation in mid 1990s.”

The games that North Koreans play are not just the Ceremonial Play. They also made a game out of the public persecution called “Shooting Game” in 2000.

The story told by Cho Kyung Cheol (pseudonym), a North Korean defector from Hyesan, Yangkang is quite shocking.

“One day I was coming home from work and I saw a row of children lined up next to the garage of our apartment. I thought they were playing hide and seek or something. But in front of those kids, there were 3 kids holding sticks. I saw these children hold the sticks between their armpits and take a shot, and in the mouths of these children, they shouted, ‘bang bang bang’ and each and every one of the children would fall. I utter shock, I screamed, “You rascals!” and they ran like their tails were on fire.”

Massive Group Execution Popular Among the Children

“At the moment, the parents shouted and the passing by elders clicked their tongues. The adults were surprised- even though the situation was quite harsh it was to their disbelief that children would make a play out of execution. When he told his colleagues after he went to work the next day, his colleagues said that the execution game has been popular among children for a long time and laughed at him instead.”

According to the inside source residing in North Pyongan said through the text message with the reporter on 19th that, “Even the children play the shooting game. Because the gun shooting is so rampant, it just happens.”

The shooting game has begun to take its toll from 1998 to 2002 when the North Korean National Security Agency initiated nationwide group executions.

North Korea has always had public executions since its establishment but the executions have been a frequent occurrence since the March of Tribulation, the mid-1990s’ famine. Kim Jong Il initiated an official order of “Ring the Gunfire” on June 1995 and initiated the reign of terror through the usage of public execution.

However, the public execution that took place in 1998 to 2002 was different from that of just taking down 2-3 people at once by the Social Safety Agency. According ot the witnesses, the NSA lined up 10 or more people and shoot them.

Back then, the popular shooting game among the children was quite a shock to the elderly generation. This kind of play was notified internally to Pyongyang and was told, strictly, to stop this from reoccurring.

Through the meetings of People’s Unit, the indoctrination content included “a ban of unrealistic games among the children.” However, it is the general opinion and consensus of the North Koreans that this shooting game will not disappear in the condition where the public execution still continues and no other game culture develops for these children. 


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