Wikipedia definition :
The term literally means "fluttering swallows", given because of the kotjebi's constant search for food and shelter. The kotjebi are not officially recognized in North Korea, with any mention of the term being prohibited in state publications and documents.
The orphaned kotjebi first appeared en masse in the mid-1990s in the wake of the North Korean famine, which collapsed the food distribution system.
The kotjebi are constantly forced to seek food and thus gather in groups to beg and pickpocket. Most of the kotjebi eat only once a day. The diet of the kotjebi, along with the food they obtain from begging, consists mainly of grass soup, wild vegetable porridge, and grass roots.
|A Kotjebi boy smoking.|
Kotjebis eat toothpaste as indisgestion drug
(Source : 치약을 소화제로 먹는 북한 꽃제비들)
According to a news media specializing in North-Korea, Kotjebis usually eat leftover foodstuff on marketplace grounds, and get stomachaches and food poisoning rather often. However, they have no money to buy medicine. Since the 2000s, a rumor started circulating that toothpaste prevents and cures stomachaches and food poisoning, and then toothpaste became the drug of choice for Kotjebis.
Kotjebi children usually eat raw corn, dead dogs, rotten food, stolen potatoes, grass, grass soup, old rice, and crushed corn bark. Kotjebis apparently believe that if you eat a bit of toothpaste with the food, you won't get food poisoning.
A North Korean escapee Jang Jin-sung said that "children feel a cool sensation when they eat toothpaste, and that is probably why they think toothpaste cures stomach problems."
Experts say that this claim is entirely unscientific. Toothpaste contains whitening, surfactant and flourine instead of whatever that prevents food poisoning and stomachache. However, uneducated Kotjebis just follow what their peers are doing to survive.