You can read more at the link above, but here is how the new system compares with the old:
Kindergarten (유치원): 1 year
Primary School (소학교): 4 years [formerly Primary School was called "People's School"]
Secondary/Middle School (고등중학교): 6 years
Total: 11 years
Kindergarten (유치원): 1 year
Primary School (소학교): 5 years
Junior Secondary School (초급중학교): 3 years
Senior Seoncdary School (고급중학교): 3 years
Total: 12 years
The new naming convention has been applied to KCTV, which now regularly refers to 초급중학교 and 고급중학교.
However, it appears that there are also more substantive changes being made to curriculum and these still have a ways to go before they are completely implemented. KCNA has [superficially] discussed some of these in two articles this year. Here they are:
Preparations for 12-year Compulsory Education in Active Progress
Pyongyang, January 27 (KCNA) — Preparations for introducing the universal 12-year compulsory education system are progressing apace in the DPRK.
According to Kim Song Il, a department director of the Ministry of General Education under the Education Commission, the 12-year education system will begin in the country on April 1 this year and go into the full enforcement through a transition stage of three years.
New programs, drawn up in accordance with the 12-year education, will be given to kindergarteners (higher class) and first-year pupils of primary schools and junior and senior secondary schools this year.
The new educational system is aimed to train all schoolchildren to be talents equipped with ample knowledge, sound moral character and good health.
New subjects necessary for secondary schoolchildren will be added in the system. Textbooks are edited with emphasis on preserving the Juche character and national identity, and priority will be given to heuristic method in teaching.
Meanwhile, various kinds of courses for teachers are going on in all provinces, cities and counties to generalize the new teaching methods created in Pyongyang and other areas.
Also, efforts have been made on a nationwide scale to increase the number of teachers and provide school things and other conditions for enforcement of the new education system.
Big Efforts Directed to Improving Education in DPRK
Pyongyang, January 30 (KCNA) — Officials of the Ministry of Higher Education under the Education Commission of the DPRK have striven to bring about a new turn in the education this year.
Attention was paid to improving the contents, methods, conditions and environment of education and measures taken to raise the quality of the heuristic teaching methods and introduce them into education.
The officials are now working to widely introduce the newly-developed simulation software and generalize good experiences throughout the country.
Meanwhile, big efforts have been channeled into reinforcing teachers and applying advanced foreign educational methods to local educational work.
The officials are stepping up the work to perfect educational system in some universities, including Pyongyang University of Architecture and put the university education on an IT basis.
They also channel efforts into renewing educational environment of universities, including Kim Il Sung University and Pyongyang Jang Chol Gu University of Commerce.
And they pay deep attention to supplying students with textbooks and reference books in good time.
Yonhap also reported on Changes being made to the DPRK education system (2014-2-2):
North Korea is promoting a double major system and other reform measures at its universities, a magazine reported Sunday, in what experts here said were efforts to boost students’ freedom and emulate schools in capitalist nations.
“In accordance with demands of the new year, projects to innovate the education systems are being pursued,” said an article published in the Jokuk monthly magazine obtained by Yonhap News Agency. The magazine, whose name means “My Nation” in Korean, is read by North Korean nationals residing in Japan.
“The second major system is being implemented and other reformative measures are also being taken in order to accomplish our education objective of spreading science and information,” said the article titled “How bright North Korean scientists are nurtured.”
The magazine also noted that universities are downsizing their curriculum as part of the education reform efforts.
The undergraduate-level diploma courses for liberal arts and social science at the North’s leading Kim Il-sung University used to be a five-year program, but they were shortened by six months in 2002. They now will be shortened further to a four-year program.
Experts here said such reform measures reflect influences from capitalist education systems, where the double major system is allowed under a four-year undergraduate diploma curriculum.
“North Korea’s push for greater student freedom as reflected in its adoption of the double major system seems to be in line with the development of a market economy in North Korea in which more individual autonomy is allowed,” said Lim Eul-chul, a research professor at Kyungnam University.
North Korea expanded its 11-year compulsory education system by one more year in 2013, matching the 12-year basic education plan used in South Korea.
You can download an English-language PDF of the letter here (copied directly from Rodong Sinmun). The bold/underlining was added by me as I read the article. Here is coverage by KCNA.
The speech does not really refer to any “paradigm-changes” in agricultural policy. As usual the emphasis is on raising output by increasing technology inputs and fortifying ideological strength. That being said, the letter does refer to a new policy intended to improve land management:
The subworkteam management system created by the President is an excellent form of production organization and a superior method of management, in that it encourages farmers to take part in production and management as befitting masters with the feeling of attachment to the collective economy. Its advantages have clearly been proved through practice.
By operating the system efficiently as required by the developing reality, the agricultural sector should bring the sense of responsibility and creative zeal of farmers into full play. It should give farmers clear-cut tasks related with soil management, farming operations and production plan and review their results in time and in a substantial way, thus encouraging them all to work in a responsible manner with consciousness and high enthusiasm as befitting masters. Recently a measure has been taken to introduce a field-responsibility-system within the framework of the subworkteam management system so as to inspire farmers with enthusiasm for production. By applying the system correctly in conformity with their actual conditions, cooperative farms should make it prove effective in agricultural production.
I am not the most qualified person to divine meaning from official pronouncements (particularly from the English translation) but this does seem to indicate that efforts have been made to introduce a new “field-responsibility-system”. This appears to be a change in the measurements by which members if a work team are evaluated. Rather than being rewarded for simple output quotas, there are now measurements for soil management and farming operations–coupled with timely and accurate measurement by work team leaders. There is no specific mention of reducing the number of individuals in a work team or other supposed policies associated with the nebulous 6.28 measures.
Interestingly in the very next paragraph, Kim Jong-un highlights one of the most persistent problems in socialist economics: poor labor incentives. He correctly notes that equal distributions to the workers irrespective of effort and quality will create unmotivated workers and production will fall. He notes that hard/effective work should be rewarded:
What is important in operating the subworkteam management system is to strictly abide by the socialist principle of distribution. Equalitarianism in distribution has nothing to do with the socialist principle of distribution and has a harmful effect of diminishing farmers’ enthusiasm for production. Subworkteams should assess the daily work-points of their members accurately and in good time according to the quantity and quality of the work they have done. And they should, as required by the socialist principle of distribution, share out their grain yields to their members mainly in kind according to their work-points after counting out the amounts set by the state. The state should define reasonable amounts of grains for compulsory delivery on the basis of accurate calculation of the country’s demand for grains, interests of farmers and their demands for living, thereby ensuring that they make redoubled efforts with confidence.
This, however, is basically a restatement of official policy. The state gets first claim on the output, the farmers fight for the leftovers….
Recently, North Korea is emphasizing the importance of protecting socially disadvantaged groups, including orphans and the elderly.
The Rodong Sinmun introduced the news about the Workers’ Party officials visiting orphans and the elderly in care homes in various regions on January 24, 2014.
According to the newspaper, “The party officials and organizations consider caring for orphans and seniors as one’s own children and parents as an important task and are actively engaging in organization and political activities in this area.”
Party officials of Jagang Province sent over 60 tons of coal, 200 square meters of firewood, pork, cooking oil, flour, seafood, undergarments, padded winter clothing and washing machines to various orphanages and nursing homes in the province.
Reportedly, the party officials in the Yanggang Province sent a hundred square meters of coal and firewood, washing machines, clothes, and shoes to orphanages and nursing homes last year. The newspaper described that there were “trails of vehicles” carrying goods to orphanages in North Hamgyong Province.
In Hamhung City (South Hamgyong Province), there are reports of 10 tons of fish delivered to orphanages and in South Hwanghae Province, orphanages and nursing homes received 300g of fish, 100g of meat and goat milk.
The news also reported in detail of Kim Jong Un’s onsite visit to the General Rear Service Department (GRSD) of the People’s Army on January 6 and that he inspected the newly built seafood refrigeration facilities and instructed regular distribution of seafood to be delivered to orphanages and nursing homes. Since then, specific measures are being established to regularly supply seafood to orphanages in Kangwon and South and North Pyongan Provinces.
Since the launch of the Kim Jong Un regime, special gifts consisting of food and clothing were sent to orphanages, nursing homes for the elderly and disabled on major state anniversaries and holidays across the nation.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported also on the same day on January 6, “Kim Jong Un recently instructed that nursery schools and kindergartens should be operated normally under all circumstances and the Cabinet should take the responsibility to guarantee lunch and heating in all children’s facilities.”
The recent movement in increased attention to orphans, children, elderly and disabled people is analyzed as an effort intended to consolidate Kim Jong Un’s power and draw the support from the North Korean people.
Some experts argue that this is a measure to resolved the number of kotjebi or homeless children and prevent social chaos.
A pilot operation of the new electronic entry system, or radio frequency identification system (RFID), to facilitate the travel to and from the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) was completed on January 15 and pilot operation began from January 28, 2014.
According to a Ministry of Unification (MOU) official, “The construction of the system began from December 11 last year and it was completed this month on the 15th. The trial operation period will begin from the 28th.”
The RFID system was agreed upon last September at the second meeting of the South-North Joint Committee for the Kaesong Industrial Complex in order to improve the South Korean companies’ access to the KIC.
The new RFID system will replace the paper document inspection with an electronic card system and personnel screening will be reduced to 5 seconds from 13 seconds while vehicle screening time will be reduced to 7 seconds from 15 seconds.
In particular, the reduced inspection time will facilitate the travel and ease the heavy traffic during Monday mornings and Friday afternoons: for personnel screenings, from 17 minutes to 5 minutes; for vehicle inspections, from 19 minutes to 8 minutes.
However, the existing personnel and vehicle access to the KIC which requires a 3-day advance notice still remains in effect, and the mobility of personnel and vehicles will still be strictly monitored and chaperoned by the North Korean military.
On the other hand, the fourth round of the sub-panel meeting was held on January 24 to discuss the operation of the RFID system, Internet connectivity, and simplification of customs process at the KIC.
In regards to the streamlining of the customs process, the two countries agreed to change it from ‘complete’ to ‘selective’ examination, but differences still remain over the ratio to be applied to the selective probe.
As for the issue of Internet connection, it is still in the infant stage and the two sides agreed to resume the negotiation on February 7.
The innovative team at Choson Exchange have published their 2013 annual report. It is full of interesting information on the DPRK’s business sector as well as interesting information on their “Women in Business Program”.
UPDATE 4 (2014-2-4): Surprise! Kim Jong-un has been nominated as a candidate to the SPA. According to KCNA:
Kim Jong Un Nominated as Candidate for Deputy to SPA
Pyongyang, February 4 (KCNA) — Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army and supreme leader of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the people of the DPRK, was nominated as a candidate for deputy to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly in reflection of the unanimous desire and absolute trust of all the service personnel in him.
A meeting of electorate took place with splendor at Paektusan Constituency No. 111 Monday to nominate Kim Jong Un as a candidate for deputy to the 13th SPA.
Present there were Choe Ryong Hae, Ri Yong Gil, Jang Jong Nam and officials of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces and KPA service personnel.
Vice Marshal of the KPA Choe Ryong Hae, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK and director of the KPA General Political Bureau, made a report.
He said the path covered by the DPRK under the leadership of the Songun commander of Mt. Paektu is a sacred path in which it emerged victorious by dint of the spirit, pluck and gut of the supreme commander, and a gigantic path in which it created world-startling miracles and innovations.
Through their life experience the KPA service personnel keenly felt that the bright future of Songun Korea and the victory of building a thriving socialist nation, the lifelong desire and wish of the great Generalissimos, are guaranteed only when they follow the supreme commander.
He courteously proposed nominating Kim Jong Un as a candidate for deputy to the SPA of Paektusan Constituency No. 111 for the election of deputies to the 13th SPA carrying the unanimous desire and warm wishes of all the service personnel.
Ri Yong Gil, chief of the KPA General Staff, Jang Jong Nam, minister of the People’s Armed Forces, and other speakers expressed full support and approval for the proposal for nominating Kim Jong Un as a candidate for deputy to the SPA.
The meeting solemnly declared that Kim Jong Un was nominated as a candidate for deputy to the SPA of Paektusan Constituency No. 111 for the election of deputies to the 13th SPA according to the unanimous desire and warm support and approval of all the electorate.
A letter to Kim Jong Un was adopted at the meeting.
And this article in KCNA:
Letter from Meeting of Electorate of Paektusan Constituency No. 111
Pyongyang, February 4 (KCNA) — Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army Kim Jong Un Monday received a letter from the participants in a meeting of electorate of Paektusan Constituency No. 111 to nominate him as a candidate for deputy to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK.
The letter said:
The period in which Kim Jong Un has led the army and the people of the DPRK true to the intention of leader Kim Jong Il was a short time in the nation’s history spanning five thousand years, but the feats he performed during the period are, indeed, the great feats that politicians can not do for a century and more.
The DPRK is giving full play to its dignity and might as an invincible power, while confidently advancing along the road of independence, Songun and socialism despite the world political upheaval. This is the proud fruition of Kim Jong Un’s extraordinary wisdom, distinguished political caliber, matchless courage and pluck.
Therefore, the grand meeting of electorate decided with a unanimous approval to nominate Kim Jong Un as a candidate for deputy to the 13th SPA of the DPRK amid the full support and enthusiastic cheers of all the participants.
The letter expressed the determination to successfully fulfill the honorable mission and duty as the defender of the DPRK government, rallied close around the supreme commander.
According to coverage in Yonhap:
Although the SPA is a rubber-stamp organization, it comprises almost all key members of the North’s elite. Late leader Kim Jong-il, the father of current leader Kim Jong-un, was elected uncontested in past elections.
The outgoing SPA with a membership of 687 deputies was elected in 2009. Only those endorsed by the party can run in the elections, according to South Korean officials and analysts.
Analysts said North Korea will likely use the upcoming elections as an opportunity to eliminate or sideline supporters of Jang Song-thaek, leader Kim Jong-un’s once-powerful uncle, who was executed in December for treason.
UPDATE 3 (2014-2-2): According to KCNA:
Election Committees for Deputies to SPA Start Their Work
Pyongyang, February 2 (KCNA) — Election committees were organized in constituencies and sub-constituencies for the election of deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK formed in provinces (municipality), cities (district) and counties and in the field of armed forces according to the law of election of deputies to the people’s assemblies at all levels of the DPRK and started their work.
Preparations are making headway across the country on the threshold of the election of deputies to the 13th SPA.
UPDATE 2 (2014-1-15): Preparations for the elections continue. According to KCNA:
Brisk Preparations for Election of Deputies to SPA
Pyongyang, January 15 (KCNA) — Preparations are making brisk headway across the DPRK for the election of deputies to the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA).
Provincial (municipal), city (district) and county committees for the election of deputies to the 13th SPA were organized according to the regulations for the enforcement of the law on electing deputies to the people’s assemblies at all levels of the DPRK and started their work.
Election committees were also organized in the field of armed forces.
UPDATE 1 (2014-1-12): KCNA reports on creation of Central Election Committee:
SPA Presidium Decides to Form Central Election Committee
Pyongyang, January 12 (KCNA) — The Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK decided to organize the central election committee for the election of deputies to the 13th SPA. The decision was released on Jan. 7.
The chairman of the committee is Yang Hyong Sop, vice-chairman Kim Phyong Hae, secretary general Hong Son Ok and its members Choe Pu Il, Kim Yong Dae, Kim Yong Ho, Jon Yong Nam, Hyon Sang Ju, Ri Myong Gil, Ro Song Sil, Ryom Chol Song, Kim Wan Su and Yun Jong Ho.
ORIGINAL POST (2014-1-8): According to KCNA:
Election of Deputies to SPA to Be Held
Pyongyang, January 8 (KCNA) — The Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) decided to hold an election of deputies to the 13th SPA on March 9, Juche 103 (2014), according to Article 90 of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK.
The Daily NK offers additional information:
Deputies of the Supreme People’s Assembly represent 687 constituencies and serve for five years, with the last election held in March 2009.
…The decision to hold elections was made by the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, North Korea’s most powerful supervisory body. Established in 1948, the Presidium implements the orders of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and sets guidelines for both domestic and international policy. It has the authority to promote and recall core members of central state organs, including the National Defense Commission, the Cabinet and the Supreme Court.Naturally, the new power shakeup is set to generate intense speculation over the future direction of national and economic policy.Ahn Chan Il of the World Institute for North Korea Studies told Daily NK, “It seems that the all-powerful regime of Kim Jong Eun will be formalized through the Supreme People’s Assembly for the world to see. This (election) could present an opportunity to revise the law, including amendments to the constitution, the ironing out issues related to land and the selection of special economic zones.”
The Associated Press offers additional information:
North Korea usually holds parliamentary elections every five years and the polls are largely a formality because candidates are believed to be hand-picked by the ruling Workers’ Party. But since members of the Supreme People’s Assembly typically hold other top official posts, the elections are closely watched by outside analyst for any hints for a shift in power in the tightly controlled country.
This year’s election will be the first since Kim took power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il in late 2011.
It also will take place after Kim Jong Un had his uncle and top official Jang Song Thaek executed on treason charges last month. Observers said the execution was aimed at bolstering Kim’s power but also showed his grip on power wasn’t as tight as his father’s.
Kim is expected to use the elections to replace aging legislators with younger ones loyal to him, said analyst Cheong Seong-jang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea.
5. 4th Session of the 12th Supreme Peoples’ Assembly (regular session: 2011-4)
6. 5th Session of the 12th Supreme Peoples’ Assembly (regular session: 2012-4)
7. 6th Session of the 12th Supreme Peoples’ Assembly (extra session: 2012-9)
8. 7th Session of the 12th Supreme Peoples’ Assembly (regular session: 2013-4)
According to Yonhap (via Korea Herald):
The United Nations humanitarian fund created to speed up relief efforts around the world said it allocated $15.1 million for aid to North Korea in 2013.
The Central Emergency Response Fund said on its website that it provided emergency food assistance, as well as vaccines and essential medicines, to people in the flood-affected regions especially children and women in the communist North through the World Food Program and other U.N. organizations.
In 2012, the U.N. humanitarian fund allocated $12.9 million to North Korea.
The CERF provided a total of $482 million to 45 countries across the globe last year, with North Korea being the 11th-largest recipient.
The North has relied on international handouts since the late 1990s when it suffered a widespread famine that was estimated to have killed 2 million people.
Read the full story here:
U.N. fund gives $15.1 mln to N. Korea in 2013
Yonhap (via Korea Herald)
More measurement of the importance of markets in the DPRK: residential and public sector energy consumptionFebruary 3rd, 2014
According to Yonhap (via the Korea Herald):
A fuel ration system in North Korea seems to have been dismantled due to a chronic fuel shortage, a report said Monday.
The report by the state-run Korea Energy Economics Institute (KEEI) said a majority of households in North Korea secure their fuel for heating and cooking on the black market or by themselves, hinting that the country’s fuel ration system might have been scrapped.
The report was made on the basis of data compiled from a poll of 350 North Korean defectors who fled the country after 2011.
According to the report, 51.1 percent of the North’s households bought their heating and cooking fuel on the market, with 42 percent gathering their fuel, such as firewood, by themselves.
Only 6.8 percent of them were provided with fuel for heating and cooking through the country’s fuel ration channel.
The energy consumption of a North Korean household was estimated at 0.291 tons of oil equivalent (TOE) as of 2011. The TOE is a unit of energy which is equivalent to the amount of energy released by burning one ton of crude oil.
The consumption of energy gaining from coal briquettes accounted for 36.8 percent of the total, reaching 0.107 TOE, followed by wood with 0.069 TOE, electricity with 0.038 TOE, oil products with 0.025 TOE and propane gas with 0.023 TOE.
The energy consumption for heating took up 50.9 percent of the total, amounting to 0.148 TOE.
The KEEI said a program for fuel aid to North Korea should be mapped out on the basis of exact data on the energy consumption in the North’s private sector.
Read the full story here:
Fuel ration seems to have been dismantled in N. Korea: report
Kim Chol-jin, the deputy chief of North Korea’s National Committee for Economic Development, is seen with North Korea head-of-state Kim Jong-un in Pyonyang’s water park (top left) and at the Masik Pass ski resort (top right). A Shanghai businessman uploaded the two lower pictures showing Kim meeting Chinese businessmen onto his blog in January 2012. (Yonhap)
According to the Korea Herald:
Kim Chol-jin is the newest influential economic policymaker in North Korea said analysts, after television images recently showed the bureaucrat accompanying head of state Kim Jong-un on multiple inspection rounds.
The North Korean Central News Agency broadcast images of Kim Chol-jin, the deputy chief of the National Committee for Economic Development, shadowing the North Korean leader to economically symbolic sites such as the Masik Pass ski resort last December. The ski resort opened last year as part of efforts to boost foreign tourism in the reclusive country.
“That deputy seat is actually closer to that of a minister here in the South,” said Ahn Chan-il, the head of the World North Korea Research Center. “He will likely have clout on North Korea’s economic policies.”
North Korea analysts expect Kim Chol-jin to spearhead much of the North’s recent economic plans to earn cash through foreign investment.
But the latest television images showing Kim Chol-jin do not include his immediate boss, the chief of the National Committee for Economic Development, implying that he is the de facto executive and his boss a mere figurehead, according to sources.
The deputy committee chief is an experienced trade official. He served at the North’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and at government agencies facilitating Chinese investment. Sources say he has extensive business connections in China and experience trading with South Korea in the mid-2000s.
Kim, along with Park Bong-ju [Pak Pong-ju], the Premier of North Korea and Roh Du-chol [Ro Tu-chol], head of the National Planning Commission, are expected to be the key members of North Korea’s economic policy team. North Korea experts consider Park and Roh to be market-orient reformists although one analyst voiced caution.
“Yes, (there) are changes on the margins, but they’re more for maintaining the current (political) system,” said Daniel Pinkston, the Deputy Project Director of the International Crisis Group’s North East Asia office.
The North’s economic development committee is the communist country’s key macroeconomic decision-making body. The committee oversees special economic zones, which lower taxes for foreign companies willing to invest there. Russia and China have been the main bidders.
Read the full story here:
New economic czar emerges in N. Korea