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In China, it's a small world after all

The Kingdom of Dwarves theme park features singing, dancing and costumed "little people."

Yi Shaobo, 28, used to work in an auto parts factory in his native Wuhan, 1,200 miles east of here. He doesn’t earn a lot more at the Kingdom of Dwarves, but he prefers it.

“I didn’t come here for the money. I came because it made me happy,” said Yi. “People at the factory had to help me with my job, and I wanted to be independent.”

Performers earn between $120 and $175 per month, depending on their role. It’s about as much as a factory worker earns, and more than most could make back home. More importantly, the little people here say they have found camaraderie and respect they don’t often get in the outside world. Inside the Kingdom of Dwarves (the park’s own translation), because the performers are all small, nobody is judged on height. They joke and tease about dating and about falling in love. The gossip has it that eight little people already have met mates here.

The park, which sits about an hour away from central Kunming, is tucked away in the mountains, inside a larger venue devoted to butterflies. The performers live there, isolated from city life — both a good and a bad thing for most. It’s clear the honeymoon phase won’t last forever, especially as tourist numbers are low so far. Still, the performers hope for the best.

“I’ll work here as long as this park is open,” said Yang.