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Posted by on Sep. 7, 2009 at 10:14 PM
  • 3 Replies
Student Exploitation Never Ends in North Korea

By Moon Sung Hwee, from Jagang in 2006
[2009-09-07 14:08 ]  
"I really hope they get rid of compulsory education; I would rather pay a monthly tuition fee..."

This is the bitter cry of parents in North Korea, a country which prides itself on being a "land of education" and having 11-years of compulsory schooling. For in North Korea, schools have lost sight of their role as places of education, turning into pseudo-prisons for detaining, regulating and exploiting the young instead.

Parents receive punishment in place of their children

As a general rule, attendance rates are higher in People's Schools (elementary school) than in middle schools (combined middle and high school).

In the case of People's Schools, it is relatively helpful for parents to send their children to school while they go out to the jangmadang or other workplaces, since elementary age students lack work skills or independence. In addition, the youngest of students receive aid fairly consistently from the North Korean state, at least as a matter of formality.

However, students who go to school during their teens are confronted with a vastly different scenario.

North Korean middle school students are subject to exploitation for all kinds of reasons, while those teenagers in poorer families have to make money for the household as well.

However, despite this reality, North Korea has recently boasted of its high middle school attendance rate.

According to inside North Korean sources, the attendance rate of middle school students since 2007 has by and large exceeded 70%, taking into account regional and seasonal variations.

The reason for this increase is a governmental regulation. Under this regulation, parents began to be held directly responsible for the attendance or non-attendance of their children, and punished accordingly.

One North Korean source explained, "Since the end of March last year, as a result of a decree from the Party Central Committee, the parents of long-term unexcused absentees have received three-month unpaid labor or six-month labor detention camp sentences. Many parents who did not send their children to school in the fall of last year due to the food crisis were taken to the People's Security Agency, the municipal party, or the factory Primary Party Committee to write self-criticisms or received labor detention sentences to set an example to others."

The source continued, "The attendance rate of students has begun to adversely affect parents' work as officials as a result. The measure was actually put into effect after the children of officials or affluent households started failing to show up to school, choosing to receive private instruction instead."

Last June, an incident occurred when the manager of the Chundong Collective Farm in Yangkang Province was in the process of being promoted to a position with the Agricultural Economic Committee. However, the manager was suddenly demoted instead, after the principal of Chundong Middle School in Hyesan, with whom the manager had long had a strained relationship, reported that his children were receiving home schooling instead of going to public school.

In another example, around 30 graduates of Osanduk Midlde School in Hoiryeong, North Hamkyung Province were dispatched to farms, and parents working in Party positions were dismissed from office, for failing to sign up for the People's Army's Solicitation Project, a traditional act of loyalty to the state by students expressing their formal "desire" to enter military service.

The increasing burden of education

"We are scared to send our children to school."

This expression is not the voice of a parent who fears school violence for his or her child. Instead, it is the voice of one who is troubled by the question "What do they want my children to give this time?"

For example, a decree was issued in October of last year demanding that every middle school student in the border region including Musan and Onsung and Hoiryeong submit 100 nails and a plank each.

From fall of 2003 through 2005, the North Korean authorities collected wood and nails from middle school and high school students all over the country, officially as part of a nationwide fortification campaign. The strategy was to lay planks studded with nails in potential points of infiltration by enemy special forces in the case of war. The North Korean authorities placed this important national defense agenda item entirely in the hands of middle school students.

Of course, in the latest case the activity was undertaken to prevent people from defecting to China.

Additionally, since the beginning of this year, the North, shouting the slogan "A New Revolution in Metal Production," assigned the obligatory procurement of 15 kilograms and 25 kilograms of scrap iron per person to elementary and middle school students respectively.

Furthermore, since the 1980s, the North Korean authorities have ordered middle school students to submit 10 kilograms of dried bracken (equivalent to 100 kilograms fresh) and a rabbit skin annually. In the summer season, students are even granted a 15-day "bracken vacation" to gather the requirements.

Since 2000, the authorities have also collected a kilogram of beans from middle school students every fall as a part of a planting campaign.

Inevitably, the income from this extensive list of exploitative projects has been going straight into Kim Jong Il's pockets under the pretext of national foreign-currency earning.

In addition, from renovating school fences and roofs to the bookshelves and the chairs in the classrooms, the reality is that all school funds and construction materials are derived from the efforts of students alone.

Among these, one of the biggest is heating.

North Korea, since the end of the 1980s, stopped rationing coal to heat schools in the winter, so the students have had to offer money to individuals or factories to buy fuels such as coal or dry wood.

Students, because of their myriad duties, are not even able to take a break on Sundays, instead being forced to participate in labor mobilization campaigns such as assisting on construction sites, planting rice in the spring and harvesting in the autumn.
The source agreed, "Middle school students are 'farmhands' raised by the North Korean authorities. Societal or school-related offerings demanded of students now even exceed those of parents to their work or People's Units.
by on Sep. 7, 2009 at 10:14 PM
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Replies (1-3):
zweedledee
by Bronze Member on Sep. 7, 2009 at 11:14 PM

Didn't speak when it happened to them, or them or them or them, because I didn't care... until it happened to me and no one was left to speak,...

Mergath
by Silver Member on Sep. 7, 2009 at 11:23 PM

If you're trying to imply that we're on our way to becoming the next North Korea, you obviously have absolutely no understanding of their history.  Try heading to one of those magical repositories of knowledge and learning and getting what us elitists refer to as "books."  Regarding North Korea, I recommend "The Two Koreas."  

Lilypie 1st Birthday Ticker


zweedledee
by Bronze Member on Sep. 9, 2009 at 6:45 PM


Quoting Mergath:

If you're trying to imply that we're on our way to becoming the next North Korea, you obviously have absolutely no understanding of their history.  Try heading to one of those magical repositories of knowledge and learning and getting what us elitists refer to as "books."  Regarding North Korea, I recommend "The Two Koreas."  

You obviously know what I'm thinking because you have magical telepathic powers right?

I bet this will overload your transistors.... I am FOR Obamacare, LOL!


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