North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un implored women in the East Asian country to have more children and raise them as “communists,” and wept as he delivered the emotional address to an enraptured audience.
“Stopping the decline in birthrates and providing good child care and education are all our family affairs that we should solve together with our mothers,” Un said, dabbing tears away with a white handkerchief.
During a Fifth National Conference of Mothers in Pyongyang, Un tackled “housekeeping duties,” which included calling upon women to fulfill their duties and strengthening national power by having more children.
“Preventing a decline in birth rates and good childcare are all of our housekeeping duties we need to handle while working with mothers,” Un said.
The supreme leader counseled North Korean women to raise their children as communists.
“All mothers should fulfill their responsibility and duty assumed before society and families with confidence in and optimism about the prospects of our socialist construction and a changed ideal society to come in the near future,” Kim Jon Un said in the speech. “They have a heavy mission to bring up their children to be pillars of socialist and communist construction and masters of future society.”
The United Nations Population Fund estimates that as of 2023, the fertility rate, or the average number of children being born to a woman in North Korea, stood at 1.8, amid an extended fall in the rate during recent decades.
The fertility rate remains higher than in some of North Korea’s neighbors, which have looked to government incentive programs to bolster young families.
South Korea saw its fertility rate drop to a record low of 0.78 last year, while Japan saw its figure drop to 1.26.
While North Korea is one of the poorest nations in the world, the change in its demographic structure is similar to that of rich countries, some observers say.
“Many families in North Korea also don’t intend to have more than one child these days as they know they need lots of money to raise their kids, send them to school and help them get jobs,” Ahn Kyung-su, head of DPRKHEALTH.ORG, a website focusing on health issues in North Korea, said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.