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“Dwarf Empire” in Kunming, China

Thirty-five kilometers outside Kunming, in China’s Yunnan province, lies a butterfly ecological garden nestled on an artificial hill created by a Chinese entrepreneur. The main attraction on the hill though is not the butterflies but a group of performers taking part in a production called “Dwarf Empire” or “The Empire of the Little People”. Chinese entrepreneur Chen Mingjing opened the theme park in mid-2009, employing a number of dwarves to create the show, and he says to help the less fortunate by creating jobs for them. Despite criticism from diverse groups calling the whole idea “barbaric” and an “exploitation of less fortunate people”, both Mr. Chen as well as the employees, see it as a positive initiative which allows them to earn a living while not worrying about what others around them think.

“Dwarf Empire” cast members perform at the Dwarf Empire theme park outside Kunming, China’s Yunnan province, 04 April 2013. The Dwarf Empire theme park opened in mid-2009, employing a number of dwarves to create the show. Depending on what type of job they do at the park, employees earn between 800-2,000 CNY (100-250 Euros) per month, most of which goes towards their savings as lodging is provided, and their living quarters are equipped with kitchens where they prepare their own meals. (Photo by Diego Azubel/EPA)
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