North Korean Teenagers’ Drinking & Dating during the Farm Supporting Activity

Daily NK
Kim Min Se

The ethics of youth regarding sex has always been a noticeable issue in all societies. It is the same in North Korea. The fear of the youth misdemeanor is worried by both South and North Koreas.

The North Korean defectors claim that the most frequently asked question since they’ve been here was whether North Korean youth also dated.

North Korea is a place with people as well. Like all other societies, personal problems of love, hate, conflicts and atonement exist. However, due to the restriction of freedom, there is also limitation on human relationships that cannot be made single-handedly.

The North Korean youth also date. While it was forbidden to date back in the 1960s and 1970s, with the changing era, the restriction on dating has disappeared as well.

According to the North Korean defectors, the trend of dating by the youth has initiated in the main cities of North Korea from the late 1980s.

The normalization of the teenagers’ dating was from the 1990s. The coeducational school became the wildfire that incurred the trend of public dating for all middle school students in North Korea.

The differentiation of girls and boys school was changed by the single statement of Kim Il Sung.

“It is quite distressing that there is a barrier between North and South, why should we have a barrier between men and women,” encouraging all differentiation of gender to disappear in all schools nationwide. Hence then, the official names of differentiating gender on official school names have disappeared.

According to a North Korean defector Park Myung Gil (pseudonym), “In middle school, in the age of 16, it is very important for students to have a girlfriend and also participate in the gang fight.” Unless you were stupid, these two things were very important for all students.” 1990s was an era where gang fights between schools and villages were rampant.

Month-long Farm Supporting Activity Is another Factor

Park stated that, “When we go onto farm supporting activity, it is easier for us to date the female students. The fellow students would pay a visit to the dormitory of the girl until she said yes.”

Middle school students in the age range of 14 to 15 go out to the field to help farming. They go out for 40 days in spring and 15-20 days in the autumn to participate for the farm supporting activity. It is during this phase that they learn how to smoke and drink.

They gather around to drink and smoke after their fieldwork is over at night time. When you don’t participate in this night gathering, you become isolated and rejected from the crowd. Although this is supposedly done in secrecy, the teachers, even when they are aware of this, turn a blind eye to the students.

While there are many similarities between the North and the South Korean students, there are also many differences. The North Korean students drink with their teachers. They usually take a bottle of alcohol to their students and drink with them out of good will. While it is hard to imagine such things happening in South Korea, the students do not get in trouble for drinking in North Korea.

When these students participate in the long term farm supporting activity, there are accidents that follow. There are many cases of female students’ impregnation after their field-work term.

The current teenagers of North Korea are surely much more free and independent. As a result of China-North Korea trade, with the influx of cheap VCR disseminated nationwide, this would play a crucial role in liberalizing the minds of these youth. However, the sentiments felt by their parents, regardless of that be North or South, must be along the line of anxiety and worry.


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