Putin to send Russian children to North Korean summer camps

Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning to send children from his Movement of the First Youth organization to a summer camp in North Korea, where they will be expected to polish statues of leaders and undergo enforced exercise routines.

Grigory Gurov, the head of the Movement of the First Youth, announced the plan as part of the military pact that Putin and Kim signed in Pyongyang on June 19. Kim gifted Putin a luxury car during his visit to Pyongyang, and in return, Putin promised to send children from the Movement of the First Youth to the Songdowon camp.

The Movement of the First Youth, established by Putin in 2022 shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, seeks to instill Kremlin ideology among Russian youth. Its members, easily recognizable by their red berets and neck scarves, are often seen carrying flags at official ceremonies. Meanwhile, the Songdowon camp, built by Kim II-sung, the grandfather of dictator Kim Jong-un, in 1960, is a peculiar mix of a boarding house with frequent blackouts, early wake-ups and roll calls, combined with a Disney-themed water park.

Artem Samsonov, a former Communist Party official who visited the camp in 2015, provided a vivid description of the camp on the Livejournal blogging platform. He recounted children waking at 6:30 a.m. to clean the area in front of the Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il statues, using special pads to polish the statues.

Samsonov, who was later imprisoned in 2022 for molesting a child, detailed a tightly packed schedule for the children, including enforced exercise, state-approved lessons, cleaning and evening discos. He also mentioned that the food at the camp was consistent, with "soup, rice, potatoes" always on the menu.

"We received special attention and were given not brooms but special pads and were allowed to wipe the statue itself," he wrote next to photographs of Russian children polishing a stone plinth.

Meaning to say, this initiative is the latest indication of strengthening ties between Russia and North Korea as they prepare for any potential invasion. The treaty obligates the signatories to provide "military and other assistance with all means in their possession without delay" if either nation faces an armed invasion.

Russian parents voice concerns about sending children to North Korea

The plan has sparked a wave of concern among Russian parents, who have taken to social media to voice their worries.

One parent humorously suggested that the only way to escape the camp would be to "walk through the jungle to South Korea." Another user attempted to reassure skeptics, sharing her positive experience at Songdowon in 2017, which she claimed was better than a Russian youth camp in occupied Crimea.

"Compared to Artek, it's a good camp," she said. "It has the same pools, water parks, stadiums, just with a different culture and completely without the internet."

But then, Gurov tried to assuage these worries and stated: "We will now form our delegation. Conditions there are good."

Learn more about the increasing animosity between the Western world and Russia, North Korea and their allies at WWIII.news. 

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