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  1. 1. i | North Korea’s Education system PSCORE REPORT Forced to Hate North Korea’s Education System
  2. 2. PSCORE | Forced to Hate ii ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We would like to thank the following people for their contribution to this report: Authors: Nam Bada, Kim Min-Kyung, Lee Yoon-Jin, Lee Jung-Hyun(Monica) Interviewers: Nam Bada, Kim Min-Kyung, Lee Yoon-Jin, Lee Jung-Hyun(Monica), Choi Lee-Hyun Copy Editors: Ann-Comfort Awosika, David Sidwell, Song Da-mi Other Contributors: Kim Ha-Kyung(Angela), Jeon Chong-ho (Victoria), Angela Bauer, Rico Nollmeyer, Laura Muehl, Guillaume Pocard, Vy Thai Design: Jeon Chong-ho(Victoria), Christina Singer Editor in Chief: Nam Bada Korean names mentioned in this report follow the format surname and then hyphenated given name.
  3. 3. iii | North Korea’s Education system PSCORE REPORT Forced to Hate North Korea’s Education System
  4. 4. PSCORE | Forced to Hate iv Contents Introduction 1 1. Report Background 3 1.1 Statement of Purpose 4 1.2 Objective and Methodology 5 2. The Purpose and Nature of North Korea’s Education System 8 2.1 North Korean Education Guidelines 9 2.2 International Guidelines for Education 16 2.3 Objectives of North Korean Education 18 2.4 Characteristics of North Korean Education 20 2.4.1 Revolutionary Teachings 21 2.4.2 Alleged Free Education 33 2.4.3 Duties of North Korean Student Laborers 41 2.4.4 Society-First Education 44 2.4.5 Socioeconomic Discrimination 47 2.4.6 Militaristic Education 50 2.4.7 Propaganda and Incitement 53 2.4.8 Monitoring and Enforcement 55
  5. 5. v | North Korea’s Education system 3. North Korea’s Indoctrination Tactics 59 3.1 Idolization Propaganda 60 3.1.1 The Foundation of North Korea's education 61 3.1.2 Idolization Procedures Before Class 66 3.1.3 Political and Revolutionary Ideals 73 3.1.4 Idolization Propaganda in Other Subjects 84 3.1.5 Idolization Outside of the Curriculum 88 3.1.6 Religious Suppression 98 3.1.7 Conclusion 100 3.2 Historical Distortion 101 3.2.1 Distortion of Modern Korean history 103 3.2.2 Falsification of the Kim Regime’s Anti-Japanese Struggles 120 3.2.3 Kim Regime’s Falsified Creation Myths 125 3.2.4 Deliberate Distortion of World History 130 3.2.5 Falsification Propaganda 132 3.2.6 Conclusion 136 3.3 Violent and Hateful Propaganda 137 3.3.1 Violent and Hateful Propaganda in Textbooks 139 3.3.2 Extracurricular Violent and Hateful Propaganda 153 3.3.3 Fear Tactics 159 3.3.4 Indoctrination 171 3.3.5 Conclusion 184
  6. 6. PSCORE | Forced to Hate vi 4. Comparative Analysis of International Guidelines 185 4.1 Comparative Analysis of North Korea Versus International Law 187 4.2 Comparative Analysis of North Korea’s Legislation 198 4.3 North Korea and Compliance to International Treaties 205 4.4 U.N. Convention of the Rights of the Child compared with the Reality of North Korea 209 5. Conclusion 222 5.1 Recommendations for the International Community 227 5.2 Recommendations for North Korea 231 Appendix 1. Additional testimonies 235 Appendix 2. Scanned pages from North Korean textbooks 258 PSCORE & Education Program 274 For quick reference Idolization Activities at Each Stage of Life 90 A North Korean student’s day and the idolization education 96
  7. 7. vii | North Korea’s Education system
  8. 8. 1 | North Korea’s Education system Introduction North Korea is economically, politically, and socially one of the most isolated countries in the world. In 1948, Kim Il-Sung took office as an authoritarian dictator, establishing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and installed a mandatory education system that justifies his dictatorial regime. Article 43 of the North Korean government constitution states, “The State shall embody the principles of socialist pedagogy so as to raise the rising generation to be steadfast revolutionaries who will fight for society and the people, to be people of the new Juche type who are knowledgeable, morally sound and physically healthy” to this end, North Korea enforces education centered around idolization of their dictator, falsification of history, and discriminatory and hateful propaganda. Through this education system, the North Korean government violates its citizens’ human rights and indoctrinates them into monitoring each other and hating foreigners. Additionally, although it is crucial for children to receive standard education during their youth, North Korean children are forcibly mobilized into propaganda education and forced labor, neither of which have any practicality.
  9. 9. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 2 The North Korean government is in obvious violation of international guidelines which strive for cooperation, peace, human rights, and freedom. This report condemns the North Korean education system and strongly urges the international community to help improve North Korea’s education system by applying pressure to the North Korean government. November 2016 PSCORE and contributing writers
  10. 10. 3 | North Korea’s Education system 1. Report Background
  11. 11. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 4 1.1 Statement of Purpose When North Korea’s first dictator, Kim Il-Sung, passed away in 1994, the whole world witnessed North Korean citizens openly and passionately spill their hearts in grief. Why would North Korean citizens grieve so fervently over the death of the one who imprisoned them instead of empowering them? Moreover, this was not a matter of a few or even several citizens lamenting his death, but rather the entire country. Did they truly grieve his passing genuinely? It is difficult to understand why North Koreans grieved over their dictator without understanding North Korea’s society and education system. North Korea is a perfectly totalitarian state strictly controlled by the government, down to its citizens’ freedom and conscience. Its education system is one of the fundamental pillars of North Korea’s totalitarian society. From the moment one is born until they die, North Korean citizens are subjected to propaganda. Propaganda involving idolization of their dictator, hatred of foreign powers, and historical distortion—every day of their lives, with no hope of respite. In order to fully understand the citizens of North Korea, one must know what they fear and why an event like the “Arab Spring” cannot happen within North Korea; to understand this, one must thoroughly research North Korea’s education system. From a human rights standpoint, this report exposes how the North Korean education system violates human rights and proposes how to appropriately approach changes for North Korea’s education system.
  12. 12. 5 | North Korea’s Education system 1.2 Objective and Methodology According to UNESCO’s Recommendation Concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education Relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, education, at its core must promote peace and respect human dignity. To this end, UNESCO, UNICEF, and other international organizations are dedicating their efforts to fighting racial, social, and sexual discrimination, on a global scale, to guarantee peace-oriented education for all. However, the North Korean Constitution Article 43 states, “The State shall embody the principles of socialist pedagogy so as to raise the rising generation to be steadfast revolutionaries,” defining “revolution”1 as idealistic in education for the sake of controlling and indoctrinating the North Korean citizens. Therefore, there must be serious discourse on not only the right to receive an education, but also the education itself. This report utilizes textbooks and class outlines which are fundamental to the North Korean education system, as well as statements from North Korean defectors, to prove that from the very start North Korean education completely blocks any means for North Koreans to learn about the truth, instead it instills inhumane revolutionary ideas mandated by the North Korean government for the sake of maintaining control. In addition, this report details the problematic aspects of North Korean education and urges the cooperation of the international community in 1 For a more in-depth definition of the North Korean usage of revolution see pages 18-19 of this report
  13. 13. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 6 order to both effectively correct the widespread human rights violations caused by North Korean education and to strengthen the rights of North Korean citizens. Section 2 of this report will investigate the structure and objectives of the North Korean education system. It will also include how such objectives contribute to North Korean politics and society by detailing the characteristics of the North Korean curriculum. Section 3 identifies the different aspects of indoctrination caused by North Korean education such as idolization, historical distortion, and discriminatory and hateful propaganda. Section 4 details international guidelines for education as well as North Korea’s education law and constitution. A comparison of these to the reality of the North Korean educational situation is included and followed by recommendations on changes that can be implemented to effectively rectify the stated situation. This report investigates human rights violations that are occurring from within the education system referencing North Korean textbooks and class outlines that were restructured in September 2012 by the North Korean government. In addition, this report uses interviews from North Korean defectors currently living a new life in South Korea. It utilizes their vivid testimonies to demonstrate the many- sided effects on student’s everyday lives via the indoctrination of the North Korean education system. The names of the interviewed North Korean defectors have been changed for their safety. Additionally, this report cites reports and research material from the United Nations and international
  14. 14. 7 | North Korea’s Education system governments, as well as North Korean digital media, specifically children’s cartoons and TV programs. As an organization founded by a North Korean defector, PSCORE aims to be the main force behind delivering the voices of other North Korean defectors. PSCORE continues to put its best efforts into directly citing as many interviews and defector viewpoints as possible.
  15. 15. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 8 2. The Purpose and Nature of North Korea’s Education System
  16. 16. 9 | North Korea’s Education system 2.1 North Korean Education Guidelines On September 25th, 2012, the North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly announced the 12-year compulsory education system to replace the former 11-year education system. Under this new system, pre-school children, academic professionals, and adult part-time students are divided by the system. The standard academic years have been set as 1 year of kindergarten, 5 years of elementary school, 3 years of middle school, 3 years of high school, and 4-6 years of college. Elementary school is for students ages 7 to 11, middle school for students ages 11 to 13, and high school for students ages 14 to 16.2 Following high school, the education system is divided into colleges, universities, and vocational colleges, as well as miscellaneous educational institutions for part-time education. Some of these include factory colleges, plantation colleges, fishing colleges, night schools, communication schools, and broadcasting educational institutions. Men are also required to serve in the military while women may either also enlist or immediately enter the job market. School Age Elementary School 6 to 11 years old Middle School 12 to 14 years old High School 15 to 17 years old Below are tables of North Korea’s curriculum for elementary school, middle school, and high school. It is complete with the distribution of hours for each subject per week. 2 “Education System” North Korea Information Portal, access date August 26th, 2016,
  17. 17. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 10 1) Elementary School Curriculum and Distribution of Hours for Each Subject per Week Division Subject 1st grade 2nd grade 3rd grade 4th grade Political Thought The Childhood of Our Supreme Leader Kim Il- Sung 1 1 1 2 The Childhood of Our Great Leader Kim Jong-Il 1 1 1 2 The Childhood of the Anti- Japanese heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Suk - - - 1 Socialist Morality 2 2 1 1 Total 4 4 3 6 Language and Humanities Korean 6 6 7 8 English - - 1 1
  18. 18. 11 | North Korea’s Education system Total 6 6 8 9 Math and Natural Sciences Math 6 6 6 6 Natural Sciences 2 2 2 2 Hygiene - - - 1 Total 8 8 8 9 Art Music 2 2 2 2 Arts and Crafts 2 2 1 1 Total 4 4 3 3 Misc. Computer - - 1 1 Physical Education 2 2 2 2 Total 2 2 3 3
  19. 19. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 12 2) Middle School Curriculum and Distribution of Hours for Each Subject per Week3 Division Subject 1st grade 2nd grade 3rd grade Political Thought Revolutionary History of Our Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung 2 2 - Revolutionary History of Our Great Leader Kim Jong-Il - 2 2 Revolutionary History of the Anti-Japanese Heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Suk 1 - - Revolutionary History of Our Dear Leader Kim Jong-Un 1 1 1 Socialist Morality and Law 1 1 1 Total 5 6 4 3 Institution for Unification and Educational Development, 2016 Understanding North Korea (Seoul, Sanghyun D&P: 2015), 239.
  20. 20. 13 | North Korea’s Education system Language and Humanities Korean 5 5 5 English 4 4 4 Joseon History 1 1 2 Joseon Geography 1 1 1 Total 11 11 12 Math and Natural Sciences Math 6 5 6 Natural Sciences 5 5 5 Total 11 10 11 Technology Information Technology4 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks Basic Technology 1 1 1 Total 1 1 1 Art Music 1 1 1 Art 1 1 1 Total 2 2 2 Misc. Physical Education 2 (1 week) 2 (1 week) 2 (1 week) Total 2 2 2 4 This subject, as well as Physical education and other subjects indicating a number of weeks studied, are only taught for that number of weeks per year.
  21. 21. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 14 3) High School Curriculum and Distribution of Hours for Each Subject per Week Division Subject 1st grade 2nd grade 3rd grade Political Thought Revolutionary History of Our Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung 3 2 - Revolutionary History of Our Great Leader Kim Jong-Il - 2 4 Revolutionary History of the Anti-Japanese Heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Suk - 1/2 - Revolutionary History of Our Dear Leader Kim Jong-Un 1 1 1 Current Government Policy 1 Week 1 Week 1 Week Socialist Morality and law 1 1 1 Total 5 6.5 6
  22. 22. 15 | North Korea’s Education system Language and Humanities Psychology and Logic - - 1 week Korean Literature 3 2 3 Chinese Characters 1 1 1 English 3 3 3 History 1 1 1 Geography 1 1 1 Total 9 8 10 Math and Natural Sciences Math 5 5/4 4 Physics 5 4 3 Chemistry 3 4 2 Biology 3 3 2 Total 16 16/15 11 Technology Information Technology 2 1 1 Basic Technology 2 weeks 3 weeks 3 weeks Industrial (Agricultural) Foundation - - 4 Total 2 1 5
  23. 23. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 16 Misc. Physical Education 1 1 1 Art 1 1 1 Total 2 2 2 Military Basic Military Operations - 1 week 1 week 5 2.2 International Guidelines for Education In 1948, to promote global peace, the United Nations published the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Due to the declaration being a United Nations resolution, it does not possess any direct legal power; however, if one takes into consideration that 193 countries are currently members of the UN, and all members of the UN must uphold the declarations they sign, all members of the UN have a moral obligation to follow the declaration. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights lays out detailed resolutions and guidelines that emphasize free, compulsory, and equal education that is free of discrimination based on race, gender, disability or religion. In addition, the UN specifies guidelines for educational content. For example, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), published in 1966, specifies freedom of thought, expression, and religion. In the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), published the same 5 Institution for Unification and Educational Development, 2016 Understanding North Korea (Seoul, Sanghyun D&P: 2015), 240.
  24. 24. 17 | North Korea’s Education system year, it advocates the preservation of human dignity and the importance of protecting human rights. Furthermore, in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), published in 1989, it calls for freedom of thought and religion (Article 14), access to diverse and beneficial information (Article 17), and promotion of life grounded in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, gender equality, and friendship. In 1991, even before North Korea joined the United Nations, North Korea had shown interest in the UN’s guidelines for education. In 1981, North Korea had ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and in 1990, it ratified the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). After North Korea became a member of the UN in 1991 they ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 2001, and signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2013 and ratified in 2016.6 The ratified rules and agreements by the international community, including North Korea, clearly designate the goals of education for children and adolescents. For example, it states that all students must be able to receive free, compulsory education centered on peace, tolerance, and equality7 , and is also free from discrimination. Among the guidelines, International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), International Covenant on Civil and 6 A signature denotes that the state has acknowledged the contents of a document while ratifying the document denotes that the state has agreed to accept the document’s principles as a part of the state’s policies. 7 Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), Article 29
  25. 25. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 18 Political Rights (ICCPR), and Convention on the Right of the Child (CRC) are widely recognized as international agreements. North Korea ratified these conventions in order to become a part of the international community and join the UN8 . 2.3 Objectives of North Korean Education However, according to the guidelines for the objective of North Korean education, set by Article 43 of the North Korean Constitution, the purpose of the North Korean public education goes against the international guideline of peace and respect of dignity and diversity of mankind. North Korean Constitution, Article 43 The State shall embody the principles of socialist pedagogy so as to raise the rising generation to be steadfast revolutionaries who will fight for society and the people, to be people of the new Juche type who are knowledgeable, morally sound and physically healthy 8 In 1981 and 1990, North Korea ratified the ICESCR and the ICCPR respectively.
  26. 26. 19 | North Korea’s Education system The “Revolution” that North Korea speaks of, is different from what the rest of the world defines it as. North Korean Revolution entails doing anything that the country may need and what Kim Il-Sung and his authoritarian family wants, even if it means laying down lives to do so. North Korea uses the term revolution to mean upholding their ‘ideal’ communist regime against perceived or fabricated outside aggression from capitalist and imperialistic ‘enemies’. Thus, it follows that North Korea’s “Revolution” is the image of sacrificing everything to fight for the sake of the dictatorship. The Revolutionary ideals can be considered a conscious fight to ceaselessly teach North Korean citizens to become loyal to the Kim family. 10 In the country report that North Korea submitted to UNESCO in 2008, North Korea details its education objectives thoroughly “In order to instill a revolutionary worldview and a noble-minded personality, all 9 Kim Sang-Chul, Suh-Kyeong-Hwa, and Kim Hyun, The Revolutionary Acts of the Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung (For Middle School, 1st grade), (Education Publishing Company: 2013), 7. 10 Ibid. “Principle of Revolution — For revolution, one must embrace the full mindset of the great revolution and be ready to forfeit everything to fight for it.” < North Korean Middle School Textbook — “The Revolutionary Acts of Our Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung” p. 7 >9
  27. 27. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 20 students must be taught the importance of an education that is political and ideological, and be taught skills that will contribute to the building of the revolution.”11 In North Korea’s revolutionary education, the contents include the Juche ideology, labor party policies as well as the refinement of the revolutionary traditions, communist beliefs, revolutionary optimism, and more. The goal of its science and technology education is the advancement of North Korean technology. Its physical education serves to have its citizens physically fit for labor and military duty.12 If one juxtaposes North Korean legislation and legal theory with the truth, it is clear that the goals of North Korean education is not even close to including universal values such as peace, tolerance, equality, dignity and humanity. Instead it focuses on instilling loyalty and traits that would maintain and benefit the Kim family. In reality, North Korean education is no different from raising slaves. 2.4 Characteristics of North Korean Education Although the revolutionary ideals North Korea teaches contains many aspects that are violent or discriminatory, this report will specifically focus on the revolutionary trainings, the so-called free education, forced labor for North Korean students, Society-First education, socioeconomic discrimination, militaristic education, and monitoring and enforcement. 11 UNESCO Report on North Korean Education, UNESCO, 2008, 26. 12 2016 Institution for Unification and Educational Development, 2016, Understanding North Korea (Seoul, Sanghyun D&P: 2015).
  28. 28. 21 | North Korea’s Education system 2.4.1 Revolutionary Teachings As previously mentioned, the goal of North Korean education is to train revolutionaries devoted to Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-un. In order to achieve these goals, the North Korean education curriculum includes political science, science and technology, physical education, and art. Its contents are as follows: Education Act of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea13 Article 29 (Political History, Science and Technology, Physical Education, Arts Education) In order to promote sound ethics and ideas, deep knowledge, achieve sturdy physique, and foster generous sentiments, educational institutions shall place political science education first above all others, and teach an in-depth curriculum combining science and technology education, physical education, and art education. Similar to the curriculums of other nations, the North Korean education curriculum includes the country’s native language (Korean), mathematics, foreign language, science, and others. However, strong emphasis is put on the importance of a curriculum centered around political thought, putting it above all other subjects in priority. This political science education is further subdivided into topics of socialist morality and the revolutionary histories and deeds of Kim Il-Sung, 13 North Korean Government, “Education Act of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, 2005,
  29. 29. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 22 Kim Jong-Sook, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Un, which carry enormous weight within the overall education curriculum. This political curriculum puts significance in the idea that the Kim family was a group of revolutionaries whom all citizens should seek to take after. This is evident in the forewords of North Korean textbooks. For example, in the foreword of the textbook for the subject named “Revolutionary History of the Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung”, one of the subjects taken in the 1st year of high school, it is written that the most important objective in becoming a Juche revolutionary is to learn about Kim Il-Sung’s greatness and revolutionary history, and “to study hard in order to emerge as a revolutionary warrior grounded in loyalty towards the party and the leadership14 ”. 14 Choi Dong-Cheol, Jong Soo-Cheol, Choi Hee-Jun, and Suh Gyeong-Hwa, The Revolutionary History of Our Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung (For High School, 1st grade), (Education Publishing Company: 2013)
  30. 30. 23 | North Korea’s Education system
  31. 31. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 24 “To learn about the revolutionary history of the Supreme Leader Kim Il- Sung under the guidance of our Dear Leader Kim Jong-Un is the greatest form of honor and happiness as the heirs of the revolution. This subject of study is of primary importance on the path to become revolutionaries of the Juche ideology with deep regard and loyalty for both the party and the leadership.” “All students must study in depth ‘The Revolutionary History of the Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung’ in order to gain understanding of the greatness of the Great Father and Supreme Leader, foster genuine loyalty towards Him and the party, and prepare thoroughly to become revolutionary warriors who have inherited the revolutionary Juche ideology in whole under the wisdom and leadership of our Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un.” < High School, 1st Grade - “The Revolutionary History of Our Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung” p.1 >15 “The Revolutionary History of the Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung” begins with a foreword that describes Kim Il-Sung as an exceptional political ideologist, politician, and military strategist, as well as an extraordinary human being. One must learn about Kim Jong-Il in depth as he had been chosen by Kim Il-Sung, and it is emphasized that students must strive to become faithful revolutionary warriors for the success of the revolution. 15 Choi Dong-Cheol, Jong Soo-Cheol, Choi Hee-Jun, and Suh Gyeong-Hwa, The Revolutionary History of Our Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung (For High School, 1st grade), (Education Publishing Company: 2013), 1.
  32. 32. 25 | North Korea’s Education system “All students must thoroughly analyze the contents of this textbook in order to fortify themselves with the theories, accomplishments, and the greatness of General Kim Jong-Il, and as per the General’s wishes, become revolutionary warriors who will receive with fervor the
  33. 33. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 26 leadership of the Great Teacher Kim Jong-Un for achieving the feats of the Juche Revolution.” < High School, 2nd grade - “The Revolutionary History of Our Great Leader Kim Jong-Il” p.1 >16 This asserts that Kim Il-Sung saved the fatherland from the imperialist endeavors of Japan and the United States, and portrays Kim Jong-Il as the successor of the revolutionary feats of Kim Il-Sung by way of his remarkable talents, who deserves the utmost loyalty of the people. In “The Revolutionary History of the Anti-Japanese Heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Suk,” it is emphasized that students must strive to follow the footsteps of Kim Jong-Suk, who demonstrated limitless loyalty to Kim Il-Sung and had dedicated her life to serving as a true revolutionary warrior. (Continued) 16 The Revolutionary History of Our Great Leader Kim Jong-Il (For High School, 2nd grade), (Education Publication Company: 2013), 1.
  34. 34. 27 | North Korea’s Education system “All students must learn about the revolutionary past of the anti- Japanese heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Suk, and follow the sublime example of the Mother to make complete the inheritance of the Juche ideology pioneered by the Supreme Leader and follow the wisdom of the Dear Leader Kim Jong-Un until the end.” < High School 1st Grade - “The Revolutionary History of the Anti- Japanese Heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Suk” p.1 >17 In North Korea, students are subject to a curriculum of the revolutionary history and acts of the three key figures (Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Un, and Kim Jong-Suk) in order to raise them into the revolutionaries they wish for them to become. This political theory education takes root beginning at age 7, far before children are able to formulate their own thoughts and identities, embedding in them steadfast loyalty to the regime and indoctrinating them with the idea that the greatest objective in life is to become true revolutionaries. 17 Kang Hong-Soo, Kim Myeong-Seok, Rhee Young-Ok, and Gam Young-Soo, The Revolutionary History of the Anti-Japanese Heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Suk (For High School, 1st grade), (Education Publication Company: 2012), 1.
  35. 35. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 28 Revolutionary education, which targets those who would sacrifice for the country and for Kim Jong-Il, is particularly distinctive. “Raising the descendants of revolutionaries to become great revolutionaries themselves is our sublime duty.” < High School 1st Grade - “The Revolutionary History of the Anti- Japanese Heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Suk” p.124 >18 In addition, while enumerating the key revolutionary deeds of Kim Il- Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Suk, the curriculum portrays the notion that these figures chose the welfare of their homeland over the welfare of themselves and their family. This is intended to impress on the students that choosing their country over their own welfare is the right and obvious thing to do. 18 Kang Hong-Soo, Kim Myeong-Seok, Rhee Young-Ok, and Gam Young-Soo, The Revolutionary History of the Anti-Japanese Heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Suk (For High School, 1st grade), (Education Publication Company: 2012), 124.
  36. 36. 29 | North Korea’s Education system “Our Mother Kin Jong-Suk realized from her brother’s words that he placed the revolution before himself, and was very much moved by this. Then she vowed to give herself to the revolution” < High School 1st Grade – “The Revolutionary History of the Anti- Japanese Heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Suk” P. 5 >19 If political theory education establishes the revolutionary model, then “Socialist Morality and Law” courses demonstrate the theories supporting the argument that a revolutionary is a model citizen of society. 19 Kang Hong-Soo, Kim Myeong-Seok, Rhee Young-Ok, and Gam Young-Soo, The Revolutionary History of the Anti-Japanese Heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Suk (For High School, 1st grade), (Education Publication Company: 2012), 5.
  37. 37. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 30 For example, “Socialist Morality and Law” for High School 1st grade states the following: “We must uphold the revolutionary mindset...” “The most beautiful mindset entails a great responsibility for the protection of the nation and its citizens, and also the party and its revolutionary interests, even if it means sacrificing oneself.” < High School 1st Grade - ‘Socialist Morality and Law’ p.9 >20 Socialist morality is laid out as the basis of an advanced revolutionary conscience, emphasizing the love between comrades and loyalty to the revolution as the most superior of ideals, and once again attests that serving as a revolutionary is admirable in terms of morality and social standing, promoting a framework that leaves no room for doubting such ideals. 20 Rhee Geum-Song, Gang Cheol-Nam, Rhee Geun-Se, Choi Moon-Pil, Rhee Hae- Gyeong, and Kim Hyeon-Sook, Socialist Morality and Law (For High School 1st grade), (Education Publishing Company, 2013), 9-10.
  38. 38. 31 | North Korea’s Education system “Socialist morality is the most superior of morals.” “The reason that socialist morality is the most beautiful and superior of moralities is that it is based on the nobility of the love between comrades and centered on loyalty to the general.” < High School 1st Grade - “Socialist Morality and Law” p.22 >21 It’s not only the political thought courses that instill political ideology, but also the music and dance classes that bolster students with revolutionary ways in songs. During elementary and middle school, children learn songs that emphasize patriotism to the nation and to the Supreme Leader, songs which contain lyrics speaking of their desire to become brave revolutionaries. Below is an excerpt from a music and dance textbook intended for 1st graders in elementary school 21 Rhee Geum-Song, Gang Cheol-Nam, Rhee Geun-Se, Choi Moon-Pil, Rhee Hae- Gyeong, and Kim Hyeon-Sook, Socialist Morality and Law (For High School 1st grade), (Education Publishing Company, 2013), 22.
  39. 39. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 32 (students of age 7). This song, called “I Want to be Your Army,” contains lyrics that portray becoming part of the army as an admirable goal for the future at a time when these children have only just begun their education and have yet to form their own values and worldviews. Additionally, from the stylized images of tanks, missiles, and combat planes around the music sheet, it is clear that they are intended to familiarize young children with the military and render it more approachable. “‘We Want to Be the General’s Army’ (Verse 1) I want to be the People’s Army With a star on my shoulder And a red star on my head
  40. 40. 33 | North Korea’s Education system (Chorus)I want to be the People’s Army That protects our land The army of our father and General” < Elementary School 1st Grade - “Music” p.42-43 >22 2.4.2 Alleged Free Education Article 47 of the Constitution of North Korea clearly states that the North Korean government is to provide free education to all students, and propagates that this is one of the reasons that the socialist system is so outstanding. North Korea’s Statutes for Free Education Article 47 of the North Korean Constitution The State shall provide education to all pupils and students free of charge and grant allowances to students at universities and colleges. Education Act23 Chapter 2. General, Compulsory, Free Education System 22 Yang Weol-Mi, Jang Myeong-Sook, and Lim Ok-Hwa, Music (For Elementary School, 1st grade, (Education Publication Company: 2013), 42–43. 23 North Korean Government, ‘Education Act of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,’ 2007,
  41. 41. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 34 Article 12 (The Right to Free Education, Compulsory Secondary Education) The purpose of a general, compulsory, and free education system is to elevate the level of cultural and technological proficiency in society. All citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are guaranteed the right to free education and are obligated to receive secondary education. Article 13 (General, Compulsory Free Education System) Until citizens are of age to begin work, they are to receive general, compulsory, free education. This period of education will last a total of 12 years. Article 14 (Obligations of Students) Local government institutions and educational institutions must educate all children of age. The parents and guardians of school- age children are obligated to guarantee the enrollment of their children in educational institutions. Article 15 (Children Outside of Residential Areas, Secondary Education for Disabled Children) Local government institutions are responsible for taking measures to ascertain that children living outside of residential areas (i.e. those living in deep mountain passes and remote islands) and disabled children (i.e those suffering from mental retardation) also receive secondary education. Article 16 (The Content of Free Education) All education is free of charge within the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Educational Institutions cannot receive any fees pertaining to admission, classes, training, tours, or field trips from its students or their parents and guardians.
  42. 42. 35 | North Korea’s Education system Article 17 (Scholarships) The state will provide scholarships to colleges dedicated to advanced scholarship, specialty schools, higher education schools, and schools for the disabled. The state will also provide special scholarships to students of academic or militaristic excellence, with preferential scholarships to Ph.D. students, as well as stipends for part-time students currently under employment. Article 18 (Rations and School Supplies, Guarantee of Basic Necessities) The state will provide rations as well as school supplies as appropriate for the level of education and basic necessities, for a nominal price. Soldiers of honor and homeless students will receive such items free of charge. However, if one reads the North Korean textbooks and hears the testimonies from defectors who have undergone North Korean education, it is clear that the law is inconsistent with the actual execution of the system. North Korea states that “all education is free of charge, and educational institutions are forbidden from receiving any fees pertaining to admission, classes, training, tours, and field trips from students and their parents.24 However, in reality, all costs and efforts of maintenance and conservation of schools are borne by the students. Schools may demand construction materials such as nails, timber, and heating materials in the winter. They may also demand that students and their parents come and repair walls, paint the school, and more. A student defector who was interviewed stated that the school had demanded that his parents come to paint the outer walls of the school, 24 Research Association of Korea, 2014, 76.
  43. 43. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 36 and because his father had lived too far away from the school, he requested a neighbor to go in his place.25 North Korean schools have a practice called “Children’s Initiative” (collecting recyclables) in which they have students gather specific amounts of seeds, scrap paper, scrap metal, rabbit fur, etc. in a certain period of time. This is often carried out on the birthdays of Kim Il- Sung or Kim Jong-Il or on a national holiday, and all gathered materials are sent to the Party. In order to do this, students may forage for items on their way home from school, or roam through the streets and construction sites. However, because the students are foraging all at once, they often encounter difficulty in meeting their quota. Because of this, it is common for students to pay recycle centers26 twice the value of the required items for counterfeit receipts stating that they had sold the materials. This type of gathering practice may be referred to by a different name depending on the supervisor. The principal or vice principal may also refer to this practice as the “Economic Challenge”.27 There is no required tuition, but the students must give bribes to the teachers. We have to give around 10~20 dollars’ worth per week. We also have the “Children’s Initiative”. The term is only really used when the students are young (i.e. in elementary school), and starting 25 Jung Eun-Gyung, Interviewer Nam Bada, Seoul, Apr. 14th, 2016, Interview Number 3. 26 A place in which the general public can buy scrap paper and scrap iron and then sell it at factories and mills. Park Chang-Shik, Interviewer Nam Bada, Seoul, May 31st, 2016, Interview Number 8. 27 Kim Cheol-Soo, Interviewer Nam Bada, Seoul, May 27th, 2016, Interview Number 5.
  44. 44. 37 | North Korea’s Education system in middle school, it is referred to as “Support Service,” “National Initiative,” “Advanced Support Service,” and so on. We did it once a week. When we would gather, there was always some kind of announcement for a support service next week. They would demand meat, presents, clothes, gloves, socks, etc. They would demand various materials each week, so there was even a merchant selling the requested goods. To hand over the goods like this was like forfeiting a full meal for each person. - Kim Yeon-Ri We would have many Children’s Initiative sessions. Students had to participate in these sessions almost every week. (Our teachers) would have to collect the various items from us, but in truth, they were going insane, too. They would receive word to collect something else when they weren’t even finished collecting the previous items. If they weren’t able to collect enough, they would be criticized at the teachers’ assembly. The reason they have to do things like this was that they did not receive funding from the government to run the schools. So they would keep demanding things from the students. - Kim Cheol-Soo Because North Korea is a communist nation, they are supposed to provide the necessary uniforms, textbooks, and school supplies for the students. It is an obvious obligation of the government, as all products of labor are taken by the government. In reality, however, the students are forced into labor to obtain the necessary supplies and funding.
  45. 45. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 38 Sometimes, the Ministry of Education would give us assignments. For example, if we wanted textbooks, they’d tell us how much we’d need to pay, and the kids would have to make it up by gathering scrap paper. But because this isn’t so easy, the teachers would order financial incentives that involves collecting scrap iron, plucking bracken, etc. Then the students would have to turn them into the Ministry. - Kim Cheol-Soo Schools were always demanding too much. We had to give them spare copper, aluminum, dropwort, cullet, shepherd’s purse, parsley, chives, herbs, locusts, crickets, and so on. The amount we had to collect depended on our grade level. In the 3rd and 4th grade of elementary school, we’d have to bring 5kg of pickled locusts or plants and 1kg of dried ones; in the first 2 years of middle school, we had to bring 1.5kg of those dried goods, and in the 3rd year of middle school and 1st year of high school, we had to bring in 2kgs’ worth, and in the last 2 years of high school, we had to bring in 3kgs’ worth of dried goods, and 15kgs’ worth of pickled goods. In the winter, we had to give pine wood as firewood. If we failed to give them what they wanted, we would get dragged out on the podium and get verbally abused; the other students and teachers would verbally attack and criticize us for not adhering to the words of the Great Leader. For example, they might condemn you in words like, “You have failed to carry out a student’s duty toward the people’s economy.” - Lee Seon-Ri There was a lot you had to submit to the school. Copper, scrap iron, acorns (for bringing in foreign currency in the fall), rabbit fur, and so on. If you fail to bring it, you would surely be scolded by the teachers,
  46. 46. 39 | North Korea’s Education system and be bullied by your classmates for being too poor to pay up. Another reason why the kids would bully you was because each grade was divided into 4 classes, and if one student failed to bring in the goods, then his entire class would be kept at school until late, and then his classmates would become angry. They would assign quotas for the day, the week, and the month, constantly demanding goods all throughout our times at school. But sometimes they would tell you to bring in the goods immediately the following day, and in that case we wouldn’t have anything ready, so we would have to begin foraging right after lunch that same day. Sometimes in the winter, the whole class would go around with a wheelbarrow and gather wood the entire day. I think we did this for about a week. One time, they told us to bring 5kgs’ worth of corn each so that they could buy coal for heating throughout the winter. 5kg of corn could feed a family of 4 for 3 whole days. - Jeong Yoon-Bo In order to support the People’s Army or the school itself, the school had us gather rabbit fur and herbs, make vests, raise rabbits, gather rabbit meat, and operate goat or rabbit farms. These ranches were supposed to make up for the school’s operation expenses, so the students had to manage them directly. Once, the school ordered us to bring scrap metal, so I got caught trying to sneak in a cauldron lid from home. At this, my grandmother lamented, “Just ask for the tuition money instead.” - Hwang Soo-Min
  47. 47. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 40 They would also demand firewood in the winter, and because I once brought in a month’s worth of coal, I was seated in the warmest seat in the classroom (next to the heater). But one time I couldn’t meet the quota and told the teacher that I’d bring the goods next time, and he threw a case of chalk at me. This was around the 4th grade of elementary school. If you couldn’t keep up with the Children’s Initiative or were unable to turn in what you were supposed to, then the teachers would take those students to the hallway and often beat their ankles. In the first year of middle school, I hit my head against the wall because the teacher pushed me so hard. I also had a bump on my head from being beaten on the head with club, and another time I was slapped across both sides of my face with the attendance book. But if my father would give the school coal or grains on time, then the teachers would treat me well. Basically, the teachers beat you without mercy if you failed to turn in what the school demanded of you, and if you turned them in in a timely manner, they would treat you well. - Huh Sang-Yoon North Korea uses their socialist constitution to mandate free education. Unfortunately, as the above accounts illustrate, the reality is that North Korea does not have the means to provide free education unless it transfers its military funding into the funding for education. Even the North Korean diplomats residing in foreign nations suffer economic hardship.28 The government upholds its constitution to make it appear 28 “North Korean Diplomat: Poor Living Conditions, ‘Lower income individuals cannot receive medical examinations (Synthesis)’” Naver News, Aug. 19th, 2016, &aid=0008626240.
  48. 48. 41 | North Korea’s Education system to the outside world that it is providing good welfare for its people. The truth is that the students are rallied into forced labor or forced to gather various items as a form of tuition. This could not be deemed “free” education, and the North Korean government should not falsely promote to their own citizens and other nations that they provide free education. 2.4.3 Duties of North Korean Student Laborers According to Article 31 of the North Korean Constitution, North Korean citizens are eligible for labor beginning at the age of 16, and child labor is forbidden. However, if one investigates the present education system, there are numerous contradictions. In 1958, the North Korean government began a system of compulsory labor for elementary school students (lasting 2–4 weeks) and middle and high school students (6–8 weeks). During these periods of compulsory labor, the students do not go to class and are subject to work for the entire duration. In addition to these periods, there are special student mobilization periods in which students work for 4–5 hours at a time.29 Some North Korean defectors have testified to being forced into various forms of labor all year. They were forced into labor in accordance to the needs of the farmlands, such as planting trees, weeding, harvesting fruit, and more. The closer in proximity the farmland area was to the school and the poorer the school’s financial state, the harder the work would be, and the more likely one was to be exploited for various types of labor. 29 "Friday Labor," North Korea Information Portal, Access date Aug. 26th, 2016,
  49. 49. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 42 Although younger children may be subject to less physical labor, there are those testifying that regardless, forced labor starts from when a child is in elementary school. Not only that, but such forced labor (Economic Development and Planning, Children’s Initiative, Good Works, Varied Donations, Presentation of Goods, among other titles) could rally students after classes and at any time during the semester. Various testimonies have revealed that their forced labor activities were more frequent and more vivid in their memories than their studies at school. Around 50% of the class came from poor families, had no support or money, and had to be drafted for labor. A classmate of mine told me that all he remembered from his days in school was the labor. (If we’d go for farming labor,) there were days when we would have to work in the fields until we turned darker than monkeys. This kind of labor became more commonplace after Kim Jong-Un came into power. There’s a quote from him saying, “The youth is our nation’s pillar.” - Kim Yeon-Ri In elementary, middle school, and beyond, perhaps after school around 3:30, lots of schools in the farming regions would work. Sometimes, students would have to go to work every day. There’s always work to do in all seasons. In the spring and summer, there’s ridiculous amounts of work involving rice planting, weeding, managing the gardens of businesses, and more. Because the schools had no money, if they wanted to maintain the school, the schools had no choice but to draft the students. It was common practice in which students would work for some other business, receive supplies in return, and thus help maintain the school. Also, in a month out of the
  50. 50. 43 | North Korea’s Education system year, we would be assigned to do farm work, and my school used to do this in the fall. As a teacher, it’s regrettable to see the education environment in such a state. We’re always short on equipment, and it’s painful to subject the students to so much labor when they’re supposed to be learning. - Kim Cheol-Soo (Former math teacher in North Korea) (At school), we turned in money and still had to work. It would have been nicer if we could have paid and focused on studying like they do in capitalist societies. We had no time to study whatsoever. In middle school, we had to go to nearby farms and plant rice, grow cabbage, and other farm work like that. From 2013 to 2014, there were lots of activities involving planting grass to make the surroundings appear neat. Every week, we went out to plant grass and water them. We also had to gather money to buy the grass seeds. (As a young student,) we were supposed to go to school from Monday to Saturday and rest on Sunday, but every Sunday, I was drafted for work so there was no time to rest. My friends and I would complain to each other about how the days of the week should be referred to as “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Saturday,” and that there was no need to call the last day a “Sunday.” After class lectures, there was no time to look at the textbooks again. - Kim Jin-Joo
  51. 51. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 44 The reason why we worked so hard at the farms was so that we could give it all to the General. They would also teach the students at school that because we must raise much crops to present to the General, we must not steal any crops. (But in reality, the labor was purely for the funding of the schools and for the financial benefit of the teachers.) - Huh Sang-Yoon 2.4.4 Society-First Education In order to achieve its own education objectives, North Korea instills indoctrinating education in the youth, teaching them to sacrifice for the good of the country and the Supreme Leader. In other words, in order to coerce citizens to submit to the party’s revolution, North Korean education forcefully recruits individuals for various initiatives and demands that they work together “as comrades” for the sake of the party and the Supreme Leader. For example, in the textbook “Socialist Morality and Law” for Middle School, 1st grade, they are taught that their fellow revolutionaries are more valuable than their parents and siblings and such bonds between comrades could not possibly be traded for any amount of money.30 30 Rhee Geum-Song, Gang Cheol-Nam, Lee Geun-Se, Choi Moon-Pil, Lee Hae- Gyeong, and Kim Hyeon-Sook. Socialist Morality and Law (For High School, 1st grade) (Education Publishing Company: 2013), 23.
  52. 52. 45 | North Korea’s Education system “Love between comrades and loyalty to the revolution are the most noble forms of love and loyalty between fellow revolutionaries.” < High School, 1st grade -‘Socialist Morality and Law’ p.23 >31 31 Ibid.
  53. 53. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 46 North Korean defectors have testified that they were required to join groups such as the Joseon Boy’s League in elementary school and the Youth Alliance, which extends from middle school to college, and that they were involved in various ideological and labor activities. I had to join the Joseon Boy’s League when I was 9, and we had to do various labor tasks like gathering grass seeds, scrap paper and iron, and so forth. (In middle school), when I was 14, I had to join the Young Socialists’ Alliance. There, too, I had to attend a lot of advancement and support activities through different kinds of labor. - Kim Yeon-Ri From elementary to middle school, I had to go out for my duty as a member of the local guard to water plants and pull weeds. Some areas I went to every Saturday, while other areas I went to often to work. - Kim Jin-Joo In college, we all had to go to the auditorium for collective education under the party secretary or the Youth Alliance secretary. We had general assemblies, study sessions, lectures, and speech permeation (in which we’d study party policies and quotes from the General), and more. Every Thursday, we would have a general assembly for an hour and a half, dedicating the 3 morning class periods (essentially all morning) to the assembly. - Park Chang-Shik
  54. 54. 47 | North Korea’s Education system During elementary and middle/high school, the Boy’s League and the Youth Alliance would partake in “activities of the arts.” We sang revolutionary songs and boys and girls alike would dance. It was different for each school, but our school did this for an hour every week. Something especially memorable was the rice planting competition, during which we would go around the farms and perform. For this we had to begin preparations in the middle of winter break in the month of January. - Lee Seon-Ri When I was in the Boy’s League, we farmed, marched in unison, wore uniforms, and performed whenever there was an event. There are so many group activities to do when you’re in the Boy’s League. - Huh Sang-Yoon 2.4.5 Socioeconomic Discrimination Like other communist nations, North Korea asserts that it pursues a classless society that is free of capitalism. To support this assertion, it claims that free education is provided fairly to all students. However, if one looks into the truths of North Korean education, severe social discrimination and bribes play a large role in admissions and academics. The maintenance of the royalty-like status of the elites and the military program means that capitalists and proponents of land ownership are driven out and that regular citizens are discriminated against.
  55. 55. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 48 Students are evaluated based on grades, but you don’t necessarily have to do well to receive good grades. Even if you don’t do well academically, if you do well with the Children’s Initiative or otherwise have contributed substantially to the school (i.e. through large monetary donations), then the teachers would raise your marks. Thus, those students would end up ranking higher. Although you should be academically competent to be admitted into college, if you’re only mediocre at your studies, you would need lots of money to make up for it. It may be that out of those admitted into college, 8 out of 10 kids came from good social backgrounds, and only one or two got in because they studied hard. Background is extremely important, and if you come from a good one, you’re set for college admissions. This, of course, gives way to grade tampering. Each college has an admissions broker who would fix exam scores for you. - Kim Yeon-Ri You take the college admissions exam 3 times. Once at your high school, which you must pass in order to move onto the next step. At this stage, they pass almost everyone. The second test is taken in your district, but if you pass the exam at this point, this is where the bribes begin. Your college rating from here on depends on how much you bribe the officials. Bribes for medical school are especially costly. Here, about half the applicants are dropped. After that, you take the provincial exam. This is when you take the exam at the college campus. Around this time, they fail about half of the applicants. Students who do not engage in bribery may be those from lesser financial backgrounds. The colleges also take this into account since it would be a loss on the part of the college if the student were to drop
  56. 56. 49 | North Korea’s Education system out mid-way. The faction at the Ministry of Education must also make a living, so they just take the bribes. - Kim Cheol-Soo All throughout the school years beginning in elementary school, they demanded money for all sorts of reasons, constantly doing so to maintain various social activities, such as “The Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il Fund,” the “Geumsu Mountain Sun Palace Fund,” and things like that. Bigger projects like the “Baekdu Mountain Wise Youth Advancement Support Project” and the “Eulwangcheon Advancement Support Project” were carried out a couple of times a year. Donations are voluntary, but everyone is obligated to make them so as to avoid being seen in a negative light. People donate 1,000 won (North Korean Won) to as much as millions. If you pay over a million won, they give you a “Proof of Support.” If you receive it, it’s really helpful for receiving the “Kim Il-Sung Youth Honor Award.” In other words, if you donate a lot, then you could earn rewards like the “Kim Il-Sung Award,” the “715 Award” and more, and you could reach executive positions more easily. - Kim Jin-Joo Getting grades is easy. If you gave around $10’s worth per subject to the teacher, then your grades would be top-notch (Year 2000, elementary to part of middle school). And because the teachers also led difficult pitiable lives, they would take the bribes. There’s no official college tuition fee, but you had to pay up under various pretexts. We had to pay almost every day, around 5,000 North
  57. 57. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 50 Korean won. If you go by the exchange rate in 2003, that was around $1.30 USD. Since then, the amount of money you had to pay has considerably increased. Now you pay around $5–$10’s worth every day. The corruption is just getting worse over time. Even the college students coming from rich families complain that it’s a financial burden. - Park Chang-Shik It’s common to get out of military training that’s part of college education by bribing the officials. They live off the bribes since they’re not paid enough by the government. Only 3 students out of 20 in the department stayed for the training, while the others got out of it through bribes. - Kim Ji-Yeon 2.4.6 Militaristic Education In North Korea, militaristic education begins at a young age. From kindergarten, students are taught to lay down their lives for their country and to despise and be wary of foreign countries. This militaristic style of education includes marching to school in lines of 4, followed by basic military training that resembles daily inspections in the military. In the later years of high school, students must join the “Red Youth Guard” and receive a full month’s worth of military
  58. 58. 51 | North Korea’s Education system training.32 There, students learn to fire AK-47 rifles and are forced into sessions that resemble the battle-like sessions of military boot camp in South Korea for new military recruits. After graduation, many of the men over the age of 17 often spend 10 to 13 years serving in the military while women who also choose to enlist serve for 7 years. The students are taught that this type of military education and serving in the military are the kinds of things that patriots do for their country, and that laying their lives down in order to defend the nation is what makes them a hero. Testimonies regarding militaristic education in high school: Military education first begins in high school, with the Red Youth Guard. During college, you have to spend around 6 months there, and if a war breaks out after you are done with your term, then they’d commission you to be a second lieutenant. This is no different from military service. We couldn’t go home, and we lived in the barracks just like the soldiers. - Park Chang-Shik We experienced militaristic education during high school. We imitated real battles, training for a week and firing around 3 rounds. There was a training center in each region, with its own chief of training and workers. They would commission a school at which to carry out the military training. The training involved target shooting, roll call, 32 If one follows defector testimonies, the training period differs per person, and there is a difference in age.
  59. 59. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 52 military-style reporting, military rules, individual battles, getting past barbed wire, passing obstacles with our rifles and so on. - Kim Cheol-Soo You first begin military training in the summer after you turn 16. We did the Guard training for around 2 weeks, and during that time we learned how to disassemble guns, firing positions, real combat training (with our parents watching), how to fight individual battles, how to throw grenades, march through mountains, etc. They made us do the kinds of things that they do in military boot camp when we were only 16 in the Red Youth Guard. - Lee Seon-Ri Testimony regarding militaristic education in college: College was exactly like the military. The class representative was referred to as the “platoon leader”. The student body was a “battalion”, and the school was a “coalition”. Each department of the school was a “squadron”. In each department, they would divide the class into 2 “platoons”. There were also classmates who had completed actual military service, and these students would become the class representatives. - Kim Cheol-Soo
  60. 60. 53 | North Korea’s Education system There were times in college when the school districts would gather to march all together like in the military. This was called the “March in Review.” It was held every Saturday. - Kim Jin-Joo 2.4.7 Propaganda and Incitement North Korea aims to use propaganda and incitement to “transform the public into a powerful weapon that carries out the revolution through thought, systemization, and conduct.”33 Through propaganda, North Korea makes certain that, “the public grasps and recognizes the uniform thought, theory, policy, etc. through systematic reasoning.”34 Simultaneously, through incitement, they aim to “appeal to the public to raise their revolutionary fervor from within themselves so that they could competently fulfill the works of the revolution.”35 However, North Korea uses propaganda to arouse its people and then incites them to act for the good of the party and the Supreme Leader. Kim Il- Sung previously emphasized propaganda and incitement in greater detail. 33 “A Case Study of a Propaganda Campaign” 2011, 27. 34 Moon Young-Ho, “Modern Joseon Dictionary (Revised Version)”, vol.2, (Pyongyang: Social Sciences Publishing, 2007), 710. 35 Moon Young-Ho, “Modern Joseon Dictionary (Revised Version)”, vol.2, (Pyongyang: Social Sciences Publishing, 2007), 703.
  61. 61. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 54 “The basis of thought enterprise is propaganda and incitement […] Propaganda is an enterprise that teaches the public the party’s theories, policies, and line of thought […] Incitement is an activity that seeks to bring forth-fighting spirit for the sake of the revolution [...] For propaganda and incitement to be fruitful, veracity, appeals, militancy, mobility, and logic are crucial.”36 In other words, the basis of propaganda is logically organized theory and thought that uses persuasion, incitement, and emotional appeal. Propaganda is successful when it causes the people to submit to the regime’s rule. Such propaganda and incitement appear in many different forms, but their primary goal is to deliver the teachings of the Supreme Leader. “The first aim of propaganda is to instill the teachings of the Dear Leader to all party members and laborers […] If the Dear Leader introduces a new teaching, then our party will follow its contents to spread and institutionalize the teachings to the public without delay. […] Not only will we do this, all party members and laborers will continue to analyze and learn them until they grasp the Dear Leader’s ideals in completion.”37 36 Kim Il-Sung, “Kim Il-Sung’s Writings” vol.40, (Pyongyang: The Workers’ Party of Korea Publishing, 1994), 46. 37 Moon Young-Jin, “Party Enterprise Experience” (Pyongyang: Social Science Publishing, 1987), 62.
  62. 62. 55 | North Korea’s Education system Additionally, North Korea has instilled propaganda and incitement to idolize the Kim family. There are idolization methods such as numerous appellations in reference to the Supreme Leader, idolization procedures before class, emblems of the Leader, and propaganda posters and announcements. Various scenic locations and museums all emphasize the greatness of the Supreme Leader and spread propaganda that states that citizens must fight for him until the end. There are also historical distortions and education that is violent and based on hate. The falsified history centered around the Kim regime serves to legitimize the current government, and deifies its leader. Furthermore, education centered around violence and hate serves to ostracize foreign powers and indoctrinates the people to monitor each other and to submit to their dictator. 2.4.8 Monitoring and Enforcement From childhood, North Korean students grow up being told to always watch their words and never be caught off guard through phrases such as, “There is always at least one spy within your class,” “Be careful what you say at school and public places,” and “The bird listens by day, the mouse listens by night.” The underlying message is “I must always monitor others so that I can keep wrongful individuals in check.” Such phrases are widespread in North Korea, and the concepts of monitoring and enforcement are ingrained in its culture.
  63. 63. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 56 At school, if a kid went to the State Security Department for watching South Korean dramas or listening to South Korean music, then everyone’s perception of him would change, and they’d monitor each other to avoid speaking to him. They would voluntarily criticize him and scrutinize his every activity. What’s alarming is that it just happens so naturally. There is even a saying, “Every North Korean is the State Police.” They teach the students that if they are true citizens of Pyongyang, and if they come across something that seems against their views, that they must report it to the secretary of the Youth Alliance without fail. We learn the following at school: “You must be vigilant of misconduct toward the country and the party. There should be no bad people within our society.” “If my friend behaves wrongly, and if I truly consider him to be a friend, I must attempt to make him correct his behavior by reporting him to the authorities. Then the authorities will turn him into a new person.” “If I do not say anything, they cannot correct their behavior. They can only correct their behavior if we tell them in a way that’s painful to them.” Children are taught to monitor and report their findings. (Because they receive this kind of education), children who have access to South Korean dramas watch them together, but then one of them would snitch and the others would be taken away. If one child is caught, then all the children involved must spill the truth in turn, “like the roots of a potato plant”. There are 2 to 3 students in each class who think of themselves as patriots or revolutionaries and report their friends. The
  64. 64. 57 | North Korea’s Education system secretary of the Youth Alliance would also search bags and censor phones. For instance, there’s this group called “the 109 Group”, that barges into middle and high schools and colleges every 2 to 3 months to inspect and censor pockets, bags, USBs, pictures, text messages, and others. - Kim Yeon-Ri The fact that they do saeng-hwal-chong-hwa38 is monitoring in itself. Once they caught a student selling gum so they inspected everybody’s bags, and it was considered a problem because students were supposed to be there to study, not to sell things. They don’t let students sell things because “it’s not good once they get a taste of money” (The North Korean government does not tolerate any thoughts or acts of capitalism). (For this and ideological reasons,) the more patriotic students inspect other students on behalf of their teachers. They’re trying to make surveillance easier by using these patriotic students (or model students). Even amongst the faculty, there are spies (to monitor the teachers). Everybody knows that there are teachers who are friendly with the State Security Department. Having spies at the schools helps the Department (makes their jobs easier). - Kim Cheol-Soo 38 Saeng-hwal-chong-hwa is the ‘self-criticism and group-criticism sessions’, for a more detailed definition see page 171 of this report.
  65. 65. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 58 If a student goes to China frequently, or uses foreign products frequently, or wears blue jeans which are against the rules, or accessorizes themselves with earrings or the like, then they’re considered “corrupt” and is referred to as “bourgeois” or a “deficient student.” Sometimes the teachers might cut up the “corrupt” clothes, for model students only wear North Korean clothes. (In this incredibly controlling society,) the teacher tells us if there are any corrupt friends amongst you, that you must report them immediately. There were some friends who would snitch on others students. - Huh Sang-Yoon Although the citizens of North Korea are living in poor financial situations, the authorities put more effort into their attempt to control and monitor them, rather than gearing those efforts into solving their financial issues. Citizens are merely targets for monitoring and enforcement, and the single goal of the nation’s operations is to keep the Kim family in power.
  66. 66. 59 | North Korea’s Education system 3. North Korea’s Indoctrination Tactics
  67. 67. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 60 3. North Korea’s Indoctrination Tactics 3.1 Idolization Propaganda
  68. 68. 61 | North Korea’s Education system 3.1.1 The Foundation of North Korea’s education “The Supreme Leader was a great leader, revolutionary, and human being, incomparable to anyone.” — Kim Jong-Il “Truly, Comrade Kim Il-Sung is a great revolutionary leader unlike anyone in history, a benevolent father to the citizens, and a great, legendary man honored by everyone.” — Kim Jong-Un <Middle School, 1st grade - ‘Revolutionary History of Our Great Leader, Kim Il-Sung’ p.1>39 39 Kim Sang-Chul, Suh Kyeong-Hwa, and Kim Hyun, The Revolutionary History of Our Supreme Leader, Kim Il-Sung (For High School, 1st grade), (Education Publication Company: 2013), 1.
  69. 69. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 62 We learned that Kim Il-Sung defeated the enemies during the Anti- Japanese struggles by teleporting. When Kim Jong-Il was born, apparently a double rainbow appeared above Baekdu mountains, and a new star rose in the sky, as if to announce the birth. It was also said that he read 1,500 books during his three years in university. When he was just 8 years old, Kim Jong-Un was said to have driven alone through his father Kim Jong-Il’s 150-li (approximately 75km) roadmap of the nation. When he was 9, he competed against the CEO of a yacht company and won, and when the entrepreneur called for a rematch, Kim Jong-Un ended up winning again. - Park Chang-Shik We were told that General Kim Jong-Il was a god, so every time lightning strikes, it is said that he appears out of the Baekdu Mountains riding on the back of a tiger. We learned a song about him doing magic and having the ability to teleport. We also heard that he used to catch flies using a bow and arrow. - Huh Sang-Yoon (A North Korean tour guide in her twenties told us) the hamburger was created by Kim Jong-Il in 2009. 40 - Eric Lafforgue 40 Styles, Ruth, "Hamburgers were invented by Kim Jong Il in 2009!”, Apr. 25, 2014, Korean-women-convinced-burgers-local-treat-Lady-Gaga-MAN.html
  70. 70. 63 | North Korea’s Education system Idolization education is one of most important aspects of the North Korean ruling system. Other communist countries have enforced this kind of education, but none have demonstrated an idolization education system as thoroughly entrenched in society as in North Korea.41 North Korea educates its future generations with the goal of raising them as steadfast revolutionaries who will fight for their society and their countrymen, and also aims to raise them as well-rounded individuals with a communist mindset. In order to achieve this goal, since the 1970s, Kim Il-Sung has demanded absolute obedience from the public through idolization education. Ideology is the most heavily emphasized aspect in North Korean education. According to Juche ideology42 , the people need someone to lead them, and in North Korea they call this figure “leader.” Everyone must obey the leader as their ruler, and must be faithful to him under all circumstances. Essentially, they must accept him as their god. Moreover, the leader is an inerrant individual, and can be the driving force for historical development of the country.43 On April 7, 2016, the Workers’ Party of Korea named Kim Il-Sung as the “Supreme 41 The Constitution of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Article 43. 42 Juche Ideology: Juche ideology, also referred to as Kim Il-Sung’s principles, is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s official philosophy; this encompasses not only Kim Il-Sung’s ideals, but also the ideology, theory, methods for the future system. Lee Gyu-Sang, “(Kim family’s true nature) Kim Jong-Il’s Juche Ideology," Freedom Asia. Braodcast, Mar. 8th, 2011, ac70c9d3acfc-c9c4c2e4/fe-kl-03082011152225.html. 43 Cho Jung-Ah, Lee Gyo-Duk, Gang Ho-Jae, and Jong Chae-Gwan, North Korea’s Education Policy in the Kim Jong-Un Era, (Seoul, South Korea: Korea Institute for National Reunification, 2015).
  71. 71. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 64 Leader”, Kim Jong-Il as the “Great Leader”, and the current dictator Kim Jong-Un as the “Leader of the Party, the country and the Army”.44 North Korean children receive idolization education starting from nursery. Although it is not a regularly held class, North Korean nursery teachers teach about Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il. Dancing and singing were the only things we were able to teach. Of course, they were songs and dances to songs that were associated with the revolution... All the songs in North Korea, even folk songs, praise Kim Il-Sung and the Party. Just like all other institutions, the nursery has a picture of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il hanging on one side of the room. We always pointed towards the pictures of the two Leaders while we sang them the songs. Because we repeat the same songs and dances over and over again, as soon as we sing the first few lyrics, “Our General…”, the children would look towards the pictures on the wall. Even newborn babies would direct their eyes towards the wall. It is actually pretty frightening in retrospect. - Shin Jung-Suk (Former teacher at a North Korean Nursery) The idolization of Kim Il-Sung’s family is taught as part of the curriculum in elementary and middle schools. The course teaches the childhoods and revolutionary activities of Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il 44 Kim Sung-Hoon, "Field National Assembly, Blue House of North Korea, Security Interview, Supreme Leader, Excellent Leader, Great Leader… North Korean dynasty’s appellations," Radar P, May 9th, 2016.
  72. 72. 65 | North Korea’s Education system and his birth mother, Kim Jong-Suk, all the while emphasizing the greatness of “the 3 Generations of Baekdu Mountain’s Leaders.” After Kim Jong-Un’s succession as dictator, the revolutionary activities and history of Kim Jong-Un were newly revised, such that the middle school curriculum included learning about “Kim Jong-Un’s Revolutionary Acts” and the high school curriculum included “Kim Jong-Un’s Revolutionary History”. Moreover, North Korean university students must take ideology classes, such as “Philosophy of the Juche ideology”, “History of the Revolution” and “Juche Political Economy”, regardless of their individual majors.45 Idolization education occurs on a regular basis in other social organizations apart from official school curriculum. Children are educated by the Children’s Alliance, teenagers by the Kim Il-Sung Socialist Youth Alliance, and then after, they receive idolization education from various organizations in society.46 Participation in regime focused organizations is a part of idolization education that the citizens of North Korea must all partake in from the moment they are born. Idolization surrounding Kim Il-Sung’s family is surprisingly akin to that of the Christian religious dogma. For example, the claim that a new star appeared on the birthdate of Kim Il-Sung is very similar to the story of the falling star guiding the three wise men to the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Saeng-hwal-chong-hwa is also similar to the Christian 45 2016 Understanding North Korea, Institute for Unification Education. 46 Lim Jae-Cheon, Idolization Education about Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il in North Korean Elementary Schools -To Consciously Participate in Learning the Mythology of their Leader-, Korea University Korea Research Center, Dec. 30th, 2013.
  73. 73. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 66 method of confession. The “10 Principles of the Supreme Leader” are also very similar to the “10 Commandments” in the Bible. This means that it is very likely that North Korea has imitated Christianity for the purposes of idolization education. The Labor party’s 10 principles are thorough imitations of the 10 Commandments. Of course, they modified them for their own purposes. In every building in North Korea, there’s an office dedicated to Comrade Kim-Il Sung’s revolutionary history. There’s one in schools, so the students would come out having heavily learned the topic. That’s the kind of education they have over there. A political church. - Jeon Joon-Seok 3.1.2 Idolization Procedures Before Class 1) Preface about the Kim family in all textbooks All textbooks contain a 1 to 2 page preface explaining the objectives of each class. These prefaces are at the front of the textbooks, and the most important message is Kim Il-Sung or Kim Jong-Il explaining the class objective in technical jargon such that it seems they have extensive knowledge of all subjects. Therefore, the students learn to idolize the Kim family. In all of the textbook prefaces, they say all of the things very clearly in clever jargon. After a while, I thought, “Is this person a genius?” - Kim Jin-Joo
  74. 74. 67 | North Korea’s Education system Preface Our leader and Great General Kim Jong-Il has stated the following. “Math is not only applicable for all natural sciences, but it is also crucial for the observation of the status quo. The meaning of mathematics education is to reinforce the scientific capabilities for the new century.” < High School, 1st grade - ‘Math’ p.1 >47 47 Go In-Geon, Rhee Young-Ho, Kim Ok-Hya, Hong Seon-Young, Kim Cheol-Ho, Rhee Ung-Sam, Kim Hae-Jeong, Rhee Bok-Hwa, We Seon-Hee and Rhee Chang- Min, Math (High School, 1st grade), (Education Publication Company: 2013), 1.
  75. 75. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 68 Preface Our leader and Great General Kim Jong-Il has stated the following. “Chemistry is an important step in that it modifies nature to create suitable materials. We must advance in chemistry in order to create things that do not exist in our country and to compensate for what we lack.” < High School, 1st grade - ‘Chemistry’ p.1 >48 48 Park Jong-Soo, Son Gyong-Cheol, Suh Cheol-Hwan, Ma Jung-Soo, and Jang Jung- Cheol, Chemistry (High School 1st grade), (Education Publication Company: 2013), 1.
  76. 76. 69 | North Korea’s Education system 2) Self-Study Time Every day, North Korean students must spend 15 minutes before class studying and reading idolization content aloud. This period is referred to as Self-Study Time, and as a daily task, one student will bring forth the newspaper or a song and read it out loud. In the 1st and 2nd grade in elementary school, the homeroom teacher would lead the Self-Study Time, and after 3rd and 4th grade, a boy’s league official, who is responsible for thought monitoring, will lead the session. This not only happens at school, but also in all levels of North Korea; the objective is to keep learning the Party’s policies and current events. However, with no freedom of the press, the media is merely another form of idolization education. Fundamentally, the Self-Study sessions are directed to fostering loyalty towards the dictatorship.49 Normally, every day before first period, the students read idolization material such as “365 days of Great Refinement,” “With the Century (Kim Il-Sung’s memoir),” and “Boy’s League Newspaper.” There’s also various reading material that they gather from school. They take turns reading by paragraphs, and if they do not finish, they will pick up from where they left off the next day. If the class does not observe Self-Study time and are exposed by a Youth Alliance or Boy’s League member, then the entire class will be penalized. Self-Study time became more formalized after the “Arduous March” of the 1990s. With continuous indoctrination from elementary school to college, students become devoted to, and willing to, obey their leaders. 49 “Self-Study Time," North Korea Information Portal, Accessed Aug. 12th, 2016,
  77. 77. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 70 Self-Study took place for around 15–20 minutes in the morning. Either the thought director (a student) or the Youth League (with connections to the government) would lead it. Oftentimes, the thought director would read it, but sometimes the Youth League officer would read it instead. It begins from the 3rd grade of elementary school, then continues through high school and college. The contents include books that idolize Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, and related material put together by the school. There are Youth Alliance and Boy’s League students sent from other classes who would check to see that everyone was doing Self-Study. If they weren’t, then they would note down penalty points, and after a certain amount of penalty points, the homeroom teacher would be criticized. - Lee Ji-Eun
  78. 78. 71 | North Korea’s Education system 3) Party Policy and Refinement After Self-Study time, there’s another idolization session centered around the Kim family called, “Party Policy and Refinement.” Usually, as they start the day, the homeroom teacher would read a story about Kim Il-Sung, and state that they will progress through the day reflecting on that story.50 Also, before every class, they take 5–10 minutes reading idolization materials about party politics related to Kim Il-Sung or Kim Jong-Il.51 For example, the teacher would narrate before class, “Kim Il-Sung/Kim Jong-Un would on X year, X month, X day (depending on the story) visit a factory and lay down policies for the betterment of our people, and oversee the projects on-location day and night,” or “The Supreme Leader and the General have been generous in allowing our studies, so in return, you must repay their grace and show your loyalty by persevering harder in your studies and organizational activities.”52 In all subjects, there is some form of party policy and refinement education. For example, in math class, they would praise Kim Il- Sung’s prodigious math skills, while in music class, they would describe his extraordinary musical talent. Thus, such idolization would emphasize the “greatness” of Kim Il-Sung. Not only at school, but every Saturday, a Youth Alliance or Boy’s League guidance officer would continue the political education. If a student incorrectly memorizes the policies during the eras of Kim Il- Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Un, then that student will be thoroughly reeducated in the era in question. 50 Kim Ji-Yeon, Interviewer Nam Bada, Seoul, Jun. 12th, 2016, Interview 15. 51 Ibid. 52 Kim Cheol-Soo, Interviewer Nam Bada, Seoul, May 27th, 2016, Interview 5.
  79. 79. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 72 This sort of refinement plays an important role in that it adds upon the classes and the Self-Study time in having students revere the Great Leader. To maintain this unrelenting ideological education, schedule the teachers meet their local propaganda officer once a week to keep up to date with party policies.53 53 Ibid.
  80. 80. 73 | North Korea’s Education system 3.1.3 Political and Revolutionary Ideals When North Korean students begin school, they go through a curriculum of political and revolutionary thought. Political/Revolutionary thought classes taught in Elementary School (Ages 6–11): - “The Childhood of Our Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung” - “The Childhood of Our Great Leader Kim Jong-Il” - “The Childhood of the Anti-Japanese Heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Sook” - “Socialist Morality” Political/Revolutionary thought classes taught in Middle School (Ages 12–14): - “The Revolutionary History of Our Supreme Leader, Kim Il-Sung” - “The Revolutionary History of Our Great Leader, Kim Jong-Il” - “The Revolutionary History of the Anti-Japanese Heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Sook” - “The Revolutionary History of Our Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Un” - “Socialist Morality and Law” Political/Revolutionary thought classes taught in High School (Ages 15–17): - “The Revolutionary History of Our Supreme Leader, Kim Il-Sung” - “The Revolutionary History of Our Great Leader, Kim Jong-Il” - “The Revolutionary History of the Anti-Japanese Heroine, Mother Kim Jong-Sook” - “The Revolutionary History of Our Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Un” - “Current Party Policy” - “Socialist Morality and Law”
  81. 81. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 74 Kim Jong-Il had said, “Political ideology education is the most important aspect of secondary general education, and to stress that importance is consistent with the party policy.”54 Political ideology curriculum is pervasive in all aspects of North Korea’s educational curriculum, and it is used strongly as a medium to train “talented revolutionaries with independence and creativity.”55 If seen in this context, it shows that political ideology education is the most important aspect of North Korea’s idolization education.56 In “Socialist Education” drafted by the North Korean education party, it explicitly states that the basis for political ideology refinement is Juche ideology.57 North Korea’s Juche ideology demands absolute obedience to the North Korean leaders. This is because according to the ideology, only the leader can be the driving force behind carrying the North Korean people throughout history. The main premise is that the North Korean revolution will continue as demonstrated through the teachings and actions of Kim Il-Sung. “We must overturn imperialism and capitalism, and continue the revolution even after we establish the socialist system. Socialism and communism does not automatically get established through the usurpation of imperialism and capitalism. The longevity of socialism 54 For the completion of Kim Jong-Il’s Juche Revolutionary Enterprise, (Pyongyang Joseon Labor Party Publishing Company), 178. 55 The thesis of socialist education is an organized series of Kim Il-Sung’s speeches, classes, and commands; on September 5th, 1977, he pressed a fearsome set of guidelines in order to direct North Korean education to “foster the people’s independence and creativity to raise them as talented, communist revolutionaries. 56 For the completion of Kim Jong-Il’s Juche Revolutionary Enterprise, (Pyongyang Joseon Labor Party Publishing Company), 178. 57 Cho Jung-Ah, Lee Gyo-Duk, Gang Ho-Jae, and Jong Chae-Gwan, North Korea’s Education Policy in the Kim Jong-Un Era, (Seoul, South Korea: Korea Institute for National Reunification, 2015), 58.
  82. 82. 75 | North Korea’s Education system and communism are reached through long-term labor and class struggles.”58 The idea that the Supreme Leader must lead generations to the right path of long-lasting revolution is the core revolutionary idea. This makes inevitable the blood succession of the Kim family, and that the Baekdu bloodline (Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong-Un) are needed to preserve the legacy of Kim Il-Sung. For this reason, political refinement serves to hone the people’s loyalty; because the citizens’ loyalty towards their leader controls the direction of their revolution. To this end, idolization propaganda is widespread throughout the educational curriculum. Kim Il-Sung’s revolutionary thought, theories, and achievements are presented throughout the educational curriculum, and society, to inspire idolization of the leaders and mold the population into supporters of the regime.59 58 Kim Il-Sung, Let us push forward Kim Il-Sung’s Grand Revolutionary Ideals for the Greater Construction of Socialism, (Pyongyang, The Workers’ Party of Korea Publishing Company: 1975). 59 Kim Sang-Cheol, Suh Gyeong-Hwa, and Kim Hyun, The Revolutionary Acts of our Supreme Leader, Kim Il-Sung (Elementary School, 1st grade), (Education Publication Company: 2013).
  83. 83. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 76
  84. 84. 77 | North Korea’s Education system “The birth of the Supreme Leader was an event of unprecedented luck and celebration in the history of our people. The birth of our Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung is the birth of the greatest individual in our people’s thousands of years of history, and an event of great fortune and celebration.” “Upon seeing the shining form of the Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung, there just could not be enough admiration for him as he was someone undoubtedly sent from the heavens.” “The Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung was a great person from the moment he was born.” < Middle School, 1st grade - ‘The Revolutionary History of Our Supreme Leader, Kim Il-Sung’ p.6 >60 60 Kim Sang-Cheol, Suh Gyeong-Hwa, and Kim Hyun, The Revolutionary Acts of Our Supreme Leader, Kim Il-Sung (Elementary School, 1st grade), (Education Publication Company: 2013), 6.
  85. 85. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 78
  86. 86. 79 | North Korea’s Education system “Upon seeing those wearing rags upon their worn bodies, the Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung felt heart-wrenching sympathy.” “‘Young ones, lift your heads. It is not your fault that you are wearing rags. Come with me!’” “The children ran into the arms of the Supreme Leader Kim Il-Sung, sobbing profusely.” <Middle School, 1st grade - ‘The Revolutionary History of Our Supreme Leader, Kim-Il Sung’ p.34>61 These textbooks for children emphasized that Kim Il-Sung cared for children more than anyone. Additionally, in the revolutionary history classes involving Kim Jong- Il and Kim Jong-Un, they are exalted as future leaders who have all necessary requirements to be a leader, and states that they have mastered, and will advance, the revolutionary ideals of Kim Il-Sung— as demanded of them by the new century and the revolution.62 The subjects Revolutionary Achievements and History of Kim Jong- Sook (Kim Il-Sung’s first wife and the mother of Kim Jong-Il) serve to idolize this female, motherly, figure. However, instead of exalting Kim Jong-Sook’s own achievements, it puts emphasis on her unfailing loyalty toward Kim Il-Sung, proposing an ideal that the people must live by. Additionally, this class subject is specifically used to justify 61 Kim Sang-Cheol, Suh Gyeong-Hwa, and Kim Hyun, The Revolutionary Acts of Our Supreme Leader, Kim Il-Sung (Elementary School, 1st grade), (Education Publication Company: 2013), 34. 62 Cho Jung-Ah, Lee Gyo-Duk, Gang Ho-Jae, and Jong Chae-Gwan, North Korea’s Education Policy in the Kim Jong-Un Era, (Seoul, South Korea, Korea Institute for National Reunification: 2015), 58.
  87. 87. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 80 the succession of Kim Jong-Il.63 Defectors remembered this fact very clearly. Mother Kim Jong-Sook was said to have had the greatest loyalty towards Kim Il-Sung. We learned that she dried Kim Il-Sung’s clothes in the middle of winter, blocked incoming bullets with her body, could fight well with a machine gun, and raised Kim Jong-Il as a worthy successor to Kim Il-Sung. There’s the image of a warm mother who founded the women’s liberation movement, and was modest, kind, and unceremonious. As a part of her will to Kim Jong-Il, she commanded him to “Follow in his father’s footsteps to make the People’s Republic of Korea great.” - Kim Yeon-Ri How prominent North Korea’s Revolutionary Thought and Kim family-centric education is in the overall curriculum is displayed in a chart in a later section. All throughout elementary to high school, North Korean students ceaselessly learn about the childhood, revolutionary acts, and revolutionary history of Kim Il-Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Sook. North Korean students are forced to study political thought, and if they do not do their homework in such classes or otherwise fail to correctly memorize the material, they will be subject to harsh physical punishments. 63 Ibid.
  88. 88. 81 | North Korea’s Education system (In political class,) students who haven’t done their homework would be forced to face the wall, and be hit on the head or hands with a blackboard pointer. Some teachers would even hit the students on the cheek, and some would make them run back and forth across the track field. - Choi Soo-Hyang You would get punished if you improperly used Kim Il-Sung’s words or get his words incorrect. You couldn’t get a single detail wrong. - Lee Seon-Ri We had to memorize the date when Kim Il-Sung founded the army and how he formed the Party; if you couldn’t answer, (the teacher) would beat the student in the head three times, and would often beat the student multiple times on their cheek or behind. - Jung Yoon-Bo Other detectors have shared how terrified they were of such punishments. Following their testimony, it is apparent that in North Korea, it is considered respectful to perfectly memorize everything about the Great Leader. I was very terrified. Misbehaving students would be dragged off and get beaten mercilessly (i.e. students who would purposefully change the words about the Great Leader). - Hwang Soo-Min
  89. 89. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 82 This kind of political thought education during their academic years has a big influence on the North Korean people. Because the political education is to be carried from the womb to the grave, many individuals consider its importance to be far greater than it actually is. When asked, “Can you tell us about college entrance exams?” defectors cited revolutionary history and political thought as the most important. They thought that even if one didn’t do so well in the other subjects, they absolutely had to do well in revolutionary history and political thought. 64 When other defectors were asked about how students were evaluated, they have stated, “Except revolutionary history, all other subjects are evaluated equally, so you absolutely had to do well in revolutionary history. You could say that it’s something you study for life.” 65 After listening to the idolization education every day, we started to think “The Supreme Leader is a great leader” and think he was “an infallible, supreme being.”66 - Hwang Soo-Min It’s been so long since I’ve studied it, but I could never forget it. That’s why indoctrination is such a frightening thing; you can’t help but believe it because it’s all you learn. - Kim Yeon-Ri 64 Lee Seon-Ri, Interviewer Nam Bada, Seoul, Jun. 3rd, 2016, Interview 11. 65 Kim Tae-Yeon, Interviewer Nam Bada, Seoul, May 12th, 2016, Interview 4. 66 (The phrase “An infallible, supreme being,” or literally in Korean,) “Strong, steel leader,” was derived from the Chinese characters describing Zeus from the Greek Myths or Jupiter from the Roman Myths to describe a superhuman ruler that rules all creation; North Korea’s propaganda portrays Kim Jong-Il as such and brainwashes the people with it (Park Chang-Shik, Interviewer Nam Bada, Seoul, Aug. 11th, 2016).
  90. 90. 83 | North Korea’s Education system In 1st grade of elementary school, we memorized things like our “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il’s birthday (February 16th), the Kim family members’ birthdays, life, and so on. For example, we had to write down things verbatim like “Our Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il began his intellectual journey when he was 8 years old …,” and if we got it wrong, we had to keep writing it down after we came back from field work until we got it right. Also, on the Day of the Sun (April 16th), people would form Kim Jong-Il’s name with their bodies. 67 All students had to participate, and if you couldn’t do it right, they’d criticize you like, “You’re not being respectful. You’re fooling around. We’re supposed to commemorate the Great General and you’re not doing it right. If the Great General can commemorate the Day of the Sun properly, why can’t you?” and then punish you. After all this, I thought that the General really was a great person. In elementary school, if the school gives us presents (i.e. candies, gum, bread, rice, fried foods, etc.) during anniversaries and holidays, we would come home and cry tears of gratitude to the portraits of Kim Il- Sung and Kim Jong-Il. We felt indescribable happiness. It’s very difficult to explain such a feeling - Huh Sang-Yoon North Korean education’s goal is such that through subjecting students to idolizing political thought and political leaders, they cannot forget such education even as adults. 67 A holiday celebrating Kim Il-Sung’s birthday.
  91. 91. PSCORE | Forced to Hate 84 3.1.4 Idolization Propaganda in Other Subjects The idolization teachings about the leaders do not stop at the political thought classes, and are spread out across all subjects. Like previously mentioned, all textbooks start with statements about Kim Il-Sung or Kim Jong-Il. Even during class, there are often reverent references to Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il.