Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Knowledge sharing SEZ conference held

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

In September 2013 the DPRK held its first conference on economic development zones under the just announced State Economic Development Commission. Read all about it here.

On May 2, 2014, KCNA announced a second conference:

Knowledge Sharing on SEZs in DPRK Held

Pyongyang, May 2 (KCNA) — There took place at Yanggakdo International Hotel on Friday knowledge sharing on SEZs in the DPRK hosted by the Korea Economic Development Association [AKA State Economic Development Commission/Association].

It was attended by Ri Chol Sok, vice-chairman of the association, and its other officials and experts and teachers and researchers at scientific and educational institutions and officials concerned.

Also present there were Kyung-Ae Park, professor at University of British Columbia, Canada, prestigious experts on special economic zones from China, India, Canada, Philippines and the U.S. and foreign diplomatic envoys and representatives of international bodies here and foreign embassy officials.

Ri Chol Sok and Kyung-Ae Park made speeches.

The speakers congratulated those participants on the successful holding of the event and mentioned the importance of the exchange of each other’s experience and cooperation in developing special economic zones and managing and operating them.

They said that the event would help to broaden experts’ vision and expand the development work and also contribute to promoting the international exchange and cooperation.

Then followed speeches.

Introduced at the event were the present situation in some economic development zones of the DPRK and their prospect and policies of preferential treatment and the master plan for Wonsan-Kumgangsan area.

The results of researches and opinions were exchanged and the BOT widely applied to investment and cooperation and the experience gained by various countries in doing so were discussed.

The event marked an occasion in contributing to turning economic development zones of the DPRK into world-level economic cooperation zones by introducing the advanced experience gained in special economic zones according to the specific conditions of the country.

Uriminzokkiri posted this video of Kyung-Ae Park and Yun Yong-sok:

Here is a loose translation of the video:

Q) What were your initial thoughts on the SEZ’s?
A) It is important to differentiate the North’s SEZ’s from those of other countries to make them attractive to investors. For tourism SEZ’s, many experts have recommended minimizing environmental degradation to promote sustainability. 신평 관광개발구 (신평 tourism SEZ) is a good example where sustainable development can help attract tourists who wish to relax and enjoy the environment.

Q) You teach Poli Sci at UBC, how did you get interested in SEZ’s?
A) Faculty exchanges among economics and management experts are often more profitable than academic discussions on political science. Naturally, those who participated in the exchange programs were talking about SEZ’s more often than any other topics.

Q) What are your thoughts on the prospects of the North’s SEZ’s ?
A) I was impressed how the entire country is putting an effort into SEZ projects. This is a very positive aspect, but we need to think about making these SEZ’s more attractive than SEZ’s of other countries.

Here is another translation:

Dr. Park: The key issue of establishing economic development zones (EDZs) is how to make ‘our’ zones distinctive from other countries. In the tourism industry, for example, it has been suggested that simply constructing new buildings, hotels, and condominiums does not offer any competitive advantage because others have been doing the same way. Instead, a better way is to ask ourselves what makes our zones unique so that they could attract people and investment. For North Korea, it is indeed the beauty of the wilderness and untouched nature that makes the country remarkable.

While teaching political science in University of British Columbia, I’ve come to realize that the South-North exchange should first take place in the area where both have mutual interests and the outcome can be mutually beneficial. Exchanges among the political scientists will unlikely be productive; so instead, we have been inviting numerous North Korean professors of economics and business, including those from Kim Il-Sung University, Wonsan University of Economics, and Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies. And this year we are extending our invitation for the fourth time.

Yet, compared to the number of North Korean experts coming to Canada, not many scholars have visited the North from our end as part of an exchange program. While we were considering ways to facilitate an academic exchange at a greater level, we were lucky to get in touch with Korea Economic Development Association (KEDA; aka Chosun Economic Development Committee). We had a meeting on special economic zones last October […] and this was a follow-up meeting after the successful outcome of the first one. Canada-DPRK Knowledge Partnership Program (KPP) organized the event, and KEDA co-hosted the meeting.

Many experts have suggested that more study is needed to make North Korean economic zones distinctive, unique, and attractive. The critical issue remains as to how to attract foreign capital and investment. Despite many challenges North Korea may confront, we believe that passion and diligence of North Koreans will prove fruitful.

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North Korea sstablishes Pyongyang Tourism College

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-4-24

The Choson Sinbo, a news outlet published by the pro-North Korean General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, reported on April 16, 2014 that North Korea has recently established the Pyongyang Tourism College with the hopes of educating and training specialists in the tourism and travel industry.
 
According to the news, the establishment of Pyongyang Tourism College is a part of “national initiatives to revitalize the tourism industry.” In addition to the college, the Choson Sinbo also reported that tourism departments have also been established at colleges of education at other regional universities in North Korea.
 
The Pyongyang Tourism College, which began construction just a year ago in East Pyongyang, was launched as a predecessor to the Department of Tourism Services of Pyongyang Jang Chol Gu University of Commerce. Other specialized academic departments such as foreign language departments (of English, Chinese, and Russian) and tourism information, administration, and development departments were established to foster the training of tourism specialists. In addition, business and industry-related departments, and an academic research center for tourism industry were established.
 
This year, most of the new students entering the college are graduates of Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies and other foreign language academies in other provinces. Furthermore, students who graduate from the Pyongyang Tourism College are granted certification as “Tourism Experts.” The dean of Pyongyang Tourism College, Cho Hong Je, expressed his confidence in the school, promising the “extensive cultivation” of tourism industry experts: “Even though we have just begun . . . there are plans for active exchanges with other countries advanced tourism industries.”
 
The college is also expected to form a sister-school agreement with Peking University. The first classes for tourism departments in other provincial colleges of education have already begun (as of April 1). The establishment of these departments, and more importantly the industry-specific Pyongyang Tourism College, can be interpreted as efforts to invigorate the nation’s tourism industry. Previously, the Choson Sinbo ran an article on March 22, 2014 that first introduced North Korea’s plan to boost its tourism industry through the education and training of specialists, citing the launch of the Tourism Economics and Tourism Management departments at the Wonsan University of Economics — also known as Jong Jun Thaek University of Economics.
 
North Korea is now making greater efforts to bring in visitors from China as North Korea struggled to draw in foreign currency through tourism last year following their third nuclear test, which is pointed at being responsible for causing the slump in Chinese tourists to North Korea. According to the Chinese tourism industry, North Korea has once again begun to offer “themed package deals” aimed at attracting Chinese tourists during peak visiting season. These package deals, which had previously been suspended, have returned and will be offered around China’s Labor Day holiday period.
 
On April 13, 2014, a sightseeing train connecting Ji’an — a city in the Jilin province along the China-North Korean border — to Pyongyang has been reopened after being suspended for 12 years. Departing from Ji’an, Chinese tourists will enjoy a five-day sightseeing course that will take them to Mt. Myohang, Pyongyang, Kaesong, and other areas. Another sightseeing train connecting Tumen and Mt. Chilbo is expected to be reopened soon.
 
In addition to these package tours, North Korea also has been working together with travel agencies in the border area of Jilin to promote a three-day automobile tour of the Rason area. These developments come shortly after a North Korean delegation’s recent visit to Shanghai to discuss plans to strengthen the cooperation between the two nations’ tourism industries.
 
According to Chinese state media, the North Korean delegation intensively studied the development and practices of the Chinese tourism industry during their visit, and was especially impressed by the development of Shanghai’s city tour program.

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DPRK opens more secondary schools

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

According to RFA:

North Korea has once again increased the number of secondary schools for gifted students, making the institutions less selective and reducing their role as guaranteed shortcuts to elite universities in Pyongyang, sources in the country said.

Until recently, North Korea’s nine provinces and the capital Pyongyang each had just one advanced-track senior middle school, a type of combined middle and high school which runs on a more intensive curriculum than a regular secondary school.

Some provinces now run more than one senior middle school reserved for top-notch students, sources said.

“There are multiple gifted senior middle schools operating now in cities such as Chongjin and Hamhung,” one source told RFA’s Korean Service, referring to the capitals of North and South Hamgyong provinces respectively.

Students at such schools are groomed for university education, where they are exempted from military service and welcomed into the country’s elite.

Easier admissions

Before 2008, provinces had operated many of the advanced-track schools, but that year authorities returned to the original system of having one per province.

Now that there are more schools for gifted students, it has gotten easier for most students to gain admission to one, the same source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The difficulty of getting admission to these gifted schools has eased somewhat,” the source said.

However, for less privileged students, attending the schools has become even more difficult because some have gotten rid of their dormitories, he added.

No more guarantees

With more students on the advanced track, the schools are no longer a surefire way into university and out of military service, another source said.

“The schools for gifted students are given the highest admittance quotas from the prestigious universities in Pyongyang, as well as other provinces’ four-year universities. Thus attendance at a gifted school has been a shortcut to getting accepted to prestigious colleges.”

“Since the number of schools for gifted students has increased recently, students attending those schools are no longer guaranteed to be admitted to the prestigious four-year colleges,” the source said.

Getting exempted from military service upon admission to university used to be “one of the greatest perks” of attending a school for gifted students, he added.

North Korea first introduced the schools for gifted students in 1983, establishing one in each of the country’s nine provinces and in the capital.

By 1999, the number was greatly expanded to some 200 gifted students’ schools.

But in 2008, authorities returned to the original system of having just one school for gifted students in Pyongyang and each province, turning the others into regular schools.

Read the full story here:
North Korea Opens More Secondary Schools for Gifted Students
RFA
Joon-ho Kim
2014-4-16

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DPRK claims to send funds to Chongryun

Friday, April 11th, 2014

According to KCNA:

Kim Jong Un Sends Educational Aid Fund and Stipends to Children of Koreans in Japan

Pyongyang, April 11 (KCNA) — Supreme leader Kim Jong Un sent educational aid fund and stipends amounting to 207.8 million yen to the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan for the democratic national education of children of Koreans in Japan on the occasion of the 102nd birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung.

The educational aid fund and stipends sent by Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and Marshal Kim Jong Un in 160 installments total 47,331,150,390 yen.

Since the Mangyongbong-92 is no longer traveling the East Sea/Sea of Japan, I wonder how the funds will be transferred.

The Chongryun have seen bad financial news lately:

1. Chongryun headquarters in central Tokyo was recently auctioned off for debts incurred helping the DPRK get through the Arduous March.

2. Chongryon schools are not eligible for some Japanese education subsidies.

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New business and economics related majors established in top universities in North Korea

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-3-27

It has been confirmed that many major universities in North Korea, including Kim Il Sung University, have recently established new departments relating to business and economics. Under the Kim Jong Un regime’s national goal of constructing an economically powerful nation, the addition of these business-related departments can be interpreted as a move to develop and foster the training of individuals who will lead North Korean economic development.

The Choson Sinbo, a news outlet published by the pro-North Korean General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, introduced some of these newly established departments in an article on March 22, 2014, stating that steps are being taken to strengthen the nation’s higher education system.

According to the newspaper, a department for International Economics has been opened at Kim Il Sung University, and the Pyongyang Jang Chol Gu University of Commerce now offers newly established programs in Hotel Management and Hotel Services. Additionally, the Jong Jun Taek University of Economics (formerly known as the Wonsan University of Economics) has installed several new departments, such as Tourism Economics, Insurance Studies, Pricing Studies, and Economic Law.

The addition of these international business, hotel and tourism departments stands out as part of North Korea’s recent efforts to strengthen their economy through the attraction of foreign investments and the development of the tourism industry.

The Choson Sinbo also stated that universities in the rural areas have changed their names to better suit the different types of scientists and technicians that they are training. For example, Sinuiju Light Industry University is now known as the Pyongbuk Institute of Technology, and Haeju Light Industry University has changed its name to the Hwangnam Institute of Technology.

This can be interpreted as a movement to promote “balanced growth” by creating a focal point for the development of talented individuals not only in light industry, but across all fields and industries. It is expected that these individuals will take the lead in developing the economies of North Korea’s rural regions.

Other newly emerging departments include Computer Hardware Engineering and Intelligence Engineering Program at Pyongyang University of Computer Technology, Geothermal Engineering at Pyongsong Coal Industry College, and Forest Construction and Heating Systems at Hamhung Hydrographic and Power College. Other additional departments include the Industry of Fine Arts and Commercial Fine Arts at the Pyongyang University of Printing Engineering, and various medical schools have seen the creation of a Recovery Medicines department.

The addition of these departments is a reflection of North Korea’s recent emphasis on the development of renewable energy systems and industrial design, such as geothermal heat.

The Choson Sinbo added that North Korea has also expanded its distance learning system, utilizing their information network to establish cyber colleges at Kim Il Sung University, Pyongyang University of Architecture, and Wonsan University of Agriculture this past January. Additional departments for distance learning were also reported to have been established at the Kim Hyong Jik University of Education.

According to the newspaper, distance learning is being developed for all classes of workers, and it is expected to revitalize the industry by fostering the growth of talented individuals from many fields, including agriculture and construction.

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Changes made to North Korean education system

Monday, February 10th, 2014

At 6th session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly in September 2012, the government announced the creation of a new school year–raising the number of compulsory school years from 11 to 12.

You can read more at the link above, but here is how the new system compares with the old:

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

NEW:
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.

and…

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.

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Protection services for the socially disadvantaged groups

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-2-6

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.

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Kim Jong Il Military Postgraduate Institute

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

KJU-grad-school

KJU-grad-school-2

Pictured above: 2013-11-4 satellite image of the Kim Jong Il Military Postgraduate Institute

UPDATE 1 (2014-4-26):  The Kim Jong Il Military Postgraduate Institute has officially opened. According to KCNA:

Kim Jong Il Military Postgraduate Institute Completed

Pyongyang, April 26 (KCNA) — Kim Jong Il Military Postgraduate Institute where the statue of leader Kim Jong Il is standing was completed at Kim Il Sung Military University on the occasion of the 82nd anniversary of the Korean People’s Army.

The institute has all educational facilities and environment at the highest level as befitting the university which was established and has developed under the energetic guidance and loving care of the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

The successful completion of the institute as required by the Songun era made it possible to glorify for all ages Kim Jong Il’s feats performed for army-building, develop the university into the one of the Generalissimos for training all-round military officers fully equipped with Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s strategy and tactics and increase the combat capabilities of the invincible revolutionary Paektusan army in every way.

A ceremony of its completion was held with splendor Friday.

Present there were Jang Jong Nam, Kim Ki Nam, officials of armed forces organ, instructors and cadets and employees of the university, officials of military schools at all levels, service personnel of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), servicemen’s families and officials of the units which made contributions to erecting the statue.

The statue of Kim Jong Il was unveiled by leading officials of army and the institute.

A floral basket was laid before the statue in the august name of Kim Jong Un, supreme leader of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), state and revolutionary armed forces.

Also laid there were a floral basket in the joint name of the Central Committee and Central Military Commission of the WPK and the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and a floral basket in the name of the institute.

Placed there were floral baskets in the name of the KPA General Staff, the KPA General Political Bureau, the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, KPA units at all levels, military schools, and units associated with leadership exploits of the peerlessly great persons.

The participants paid tribute to the statue.

Jang Jong Nam, minister of the People’s Armed Forces, spoke at the ceremony.

He said:

Kim Jong Il made sure that an institute, the highest course in military education of the DPRK, was built at the university and specified those to be trained, scope, educational method and contents, thereby building it into a prestigious and comprehensive center for training military cadres.

The appearance of the institute as the highest seat for training military commanding officers which goes by the august name of Kim Jong Il is a precious fruition of the energetic guidance given by Marshal Kim Jong Un.

The speaker called on the institute to train more persons possessed of sense of obligation who share intention and sincerity with the supreme commander despite rain or snow, true fighters equipped with Kim Il Sung’s and Kim Jong Il’s strategy and tactics, heroic fighting spirit and perfect capability to fight an actual war and tiger-like fighters of Mt. Paektu.

The participants looked round the statue, after being briefed on it.

Here is footage from KCTV:

Original Post (2013-11-20): Kim Jong-un has visited the “Kim Jong Il Military Postgraduate Institute” (김일성군사종합대학 김정일군사연구원) under construction in Mangyongdae. As we can see from the satellite imagery this is a significant expansion of the school’s capacities. It is still unclear what specific role the new graduate school is intended to play, but Rodong Sinmun tells us the following:

He said that it is of weighty importance to build the institute, a center for training dependable military personnel of the party, at the university which was founded and developed under the energetic leadership and loving care of Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong.

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Chongryun education subsidies

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

 

Pictured above (Google Earth): (L) The Chongryon headquarters building in Tokyo. (R) The Chongryon’s Korea University

UPDATE 7 (2013-10-31): According to the Choson Ilbo, Yokohama has cut Chongryon education subsidies:

The Japanese city of Yokohama has decided to stop annual subsidies to pro-North Korean schools this year, citing North Korea’s nuclear test and other provocations, the Tokyo Shimbun daily reported Wednesday.

The schools are affiliated with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan or Chongryon, a Pyongyang mouthpiece.

The education committee in Yokohama informed three of the Chongryon schools in the city last week that they would not be receiving the subsidy of 2.5 million yen set aside in this year’s budget.

They include two primary and one secondary school.

Yokohama Mayor Fumiko Hayashi said she is halting the subsidies as long as the issues of “North Korea’s nuclear weapons development and abduction of Japanese citizens remain unresolved.”

Earlier in February, the Japanese government cut Chongryon schools out of federal subsidies. Seven regional governments, including Saitama and Hiroshima, have followed suit.

Read the full story here:
Yokohama Stops Subsidies for Chongryon Schools
Choson Ilbo
2013-10-31

UPDATE 6 (2013-6-15): The Economist follows up with a story on the state of the Chongryun schools in Japan:

Japan’s government excluded the schools from a scheme to waive tuition fees in other schools two years ago. Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, is now focusing on public funding. Tokyo has led the way, ending its 6m yen ($63,000) annual subsidy to this Korean high school. Local authorities around Japan are following suit. “We’ll survive, but many won’t,” laments the headmaster, Shin Gil-ung.

The funding assault is part of what may be the end-game in a low-level war between Japanese conservatives and the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, known as Chongryon. The organisation, which runs the schools, is North Korea’s de facto embassy and is suspected of involvement in the North’s bizarre abduction of over a dozen Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s. The Japanese want the surviving citizens returned. The North Koreans say they are all dead.

The schools and the community they serve are in deep trouble anyway. Thousands of Koreans are abandoning their ethnic identities to take Japanese citizenship. Enrolment at Mr Shin’s school has fallen to 600 students from a high of 2,300 when he attended in the late 1960s. Parents pay for 80% of the institution’s costs; cash from North Korea, once a lifeline, has dried up.

UPDATE 5 (2011-10-24): According to the Daily NK:

The network of schools in Japan operated by the General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, saw the overall scale of its government funding shrink by 27% in the year 2009-2010, according to a report today from Sankei Shimbun.

Documents reveal that in 2009, ‘Chosun Schools’ received 549.73 million Yen ($7.2 million) in support, but by 2010 this had shrunk by 147.29 million Yen ($1.9 million) to 424.3 million Yen ($5.5 million).

Chosun Schools have courted controversy in recent times with assertions that have angered the Japanese authorities, in particular stating in history textbooks that “The Japanese authorities are emphasizing the abductees issue to cultivate anti-Chosun discord,” but also by calling the 1987 Korean Air disaster a fabrication.

The greatest reductions in funding were felt in four places; Tokyo, Osaka, Saitama and Fukuoka. Two, Tokyo and Saitama, gave no funding at all during 2010, with Osaka authorities explaining their choice in terms of cutting links with Chongryon as an organization which places portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on the walls of classrooms.

Elsewhere, consistently falling student numbers have also reduced the applicability of central funding for the schools.

UPDATE 4 (2011-6-3): The Chongryun schools seem to have corrected a number of historical points to please the Japanese.  According to the Choson Ilbo:

Pro-North Korean high schools in Japan changed textbook entries about North Korea’s kidnapping of Japanese nationals and the bombing of Korean Air passenger plane in 1987 to receive local government funding, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported Thursday.

Kanagawa Prefecture on Wednesday said pro-Pyongyang high schools in the prefecture removed from their modern history textbook the sentence “Japan exaggerated the kidnap issue,” and the entry claiming South Korea “fabricated” the bombing was amended to the bombing “occurred.”

The textbook is used in 10 pro-North Korean high schools in Japan. Kanagawa Prefecture added the modified version of the textbook was checked during a survey of high schools as part of a national tuition fee waiver program at the end of May.

Kanagawa Governor Yuji Kuroiwa said on Thursday, “We agreed to provide 63 million yen of funding to the schools as they promised to use the supplementary book that says North Korea ‘officially admitted’ the kidnapping, and reflect this when the textbook is revised in 2013. Whether we will continue to provide funding after next year depends on the teaching in these schools.”

Kanagawa Prefecture withheld financial assistance to five pro-Pyongyang primary, middle and high schools in the prefecture last year, and demanded modification of history textbooks and transparent management of schools.

Shin Kil-woong, who leads a group of head teachers at high schools run by the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Koreans in Japan or Chongryon, said, “We decided to remove the parts on the kidnapping issue to seek understanding from Japanese people.”

UPDATE 3 (3/8/2011): Congryun education subsidies in Japan appear to be on the wane again. According to Kyodo:

Students of a pro-Pyongyang high school in Tokyo called on the government Sunday to include their school in the national tuition waiver program.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government had planned for the program to cover pro-Pyongyang schools by the end of the current fiscal year through March, but Prime Minister Naoto Kan suspended procedures to expand the program in the wake of North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean island in November.

Pro-Pyongyang schools have close ties with the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon), which serves as the de facto government mission for North Korea in Japan because of the absence of diplomatic relations.

“We would like to study with the same rights as Japanese high school students,” said Pak Su Gi, 18, in a speech addressed to Kan at a graduation ceremony at the pro-Pyongyang school in Tokyo’s Kita Ward.

The students of the school have been collecting signatures for a petition and held a march in the past year.

“We feel frustrated because our voices have not reached the government,” said Om Ri Hwa, another 18-year-old graduate of the Tokyo school.

The government has since last April waived tuition fees for students attending public high schools in line with the ruling party’s pledge in the August 2009 general election.

UPDATE 2 (2/5/2011): Chongryon schools’ history spin hurt tuition waiver bid. According to the Japan Times:

Flipping through a copy of a recently obtained Korean history textbook used in pro-Pyongyang junior high schools in Japan, journalist Ryo Hagiwara points his finger to a section describing how North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il Sung, and his Korean People’s Revolutionary Army defeated the Japanese occupation forces in 1945 and drove them off the Korean Peninsula.

“Well, this reads as if Kim and his army single-handedly liberated the North, but this is not true. It’s a known historical fact that Kim was an officer of the Soviet army’s 88th Brigade at the time,” Hagiwara said.

According to outside historians, the KPRA was a North Korean propaganda term for what was actually the Second Army Corps of a Chinese communist-led force that Kim was a part of during the 1930s and early 1940s before he joined the Soviet army.

“It’s as if students are studying Kim’s biography, not real history,” Hagiwara said, explaining that out of the textbook’s 119 pages, 62 are dedicated to Kim Il Sung and his family.

The expert on North Korea is heading a group translating the textbook into Japanese to highlight its content for the Japanese public. He expects the group’s version to be published later this month.

Hagiwara is a proponent of abolishing all subsidies for these schools, which he claims are giving students distorted history lessons that glorify and instill loyalty to Kim Jong Il’s hermit regime, and have strong ties with an organization with direct links to the dictatorship — Chongryon, the Association of Korean Residents in Japan.

It appears his argument has been gaining ground in recent months following North Korea’s bombing of a South Korean island in November, which prompted the ruling Democratic Party of Japan to temporarily freeze procedures for including pro-Pyongyang schools in its high school tuition waiver program.

Under a law that took effect last April, students at public high schools are exempt from paying tuition. Private schools and other schools equivalent to high schools receive between ¥118,800 to ¥237,600 per student annually, depending on their household income.

Foreign schools and international schools are eligible for the tuition waiver program if they are considered equivalent to Japanese high schools after checks with their home countries, or if their curricula are accredited by international organizations.

But while the DPJ initially planned on including the pro-Pyongyang high schools, the increased tensions in the region in recent months have led Prime Minister Naoto Kan to apply the brakes.

Making things worse for these schools, the increased publicity has prompted several municipalities to review the annual grants they have been doling out to them for decades.

Reports from the education ministry and the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea (NARKN) show that 27 prefectures have been handing out a total of around ¥800 million a year to pro-Pyongyang schools.

Based on the schools’ enrollment, they would get additional funding of around ¥200 million under the central government’s high school tuition waiver program.

According to the education ministry, 73 pro-Pyongyang schools with an estimated 8,300 students were operating in Japan as of 2009. Of these, 10 were high schools with around 1,800 students in total.

In late January, Osaka Prefecture decided against distributing the ¥200 million in subsidies it has budgeted for fiscal 2011 for the 10 pro-Pyongyang schools within its jurisdiction.

Osaka, which has been providing financial aid to pro-Pyongyang schools since 1974, cited the schools’ reluctance to respond to guidelines the prefecture had set under Gov. Toru Hashimoto as the reason behind the decision. The guidelines include severing ties with Chongryon and removing photographs of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il from classrooms.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which has been handing out approximately ¥24 million a year to 10 pro-Pyongyang schools, has also suspended grants for fiscal 2011.

“Municipal subsidies to pro-Pyongyang schools have been handed out for decades without ever being widely reported, but the controversy over the DPJ’s tuition waiver program dragged it into the spotlight,” said Ryuichiro Hirata, chief executive of NARKN, a nationwide nonprofit organization working to secure the return of people abducted by the North.

Hirata said history textbooks used in pro-Pyongyang schools nationwide are edited and carefully checked in Pyongyang, and he believes Japan would send the North the wrong message if it hands money to its schools while issuing various other sanctions.

According to “Modern Korean History — Level 3,” used in pro-Pyongyang high schools and translated into Japanese and published last year by Hagiwara and his organization, the Association of Experts Against Spending Tax Money on Pro-Pyongyang High Schools, South Korea and the United States were responsible for starting the Korean War.

This claim is contrary to common knowledge that the North Korean invasion of South Korea in 1950 was the direct catalyst.

The textbook also states that the 1987 bombing of Korean Air Flight 858 by two North Korean agents, which killed 115 people, was a conspiracy hatched in South Korea to help Roh Tae Woo win the presidential election.

Lee Young Hwa, an economics professor at Kansai University and a North Korea expert, said it is fundamentally wrong that subsidies are being given to pro-Pyongyang schools, which operate under the guidance of Kim Jong Il’s Korean Workers’ Party.

“Unless Japan is a dictatorship, it should not be spending public money to fund schools operated by the KWP,” Lee said, arguing that such schools should only be allowed to continue operations if they severe ties with the North and operate under the principles of democracy.

But there are many who oppose cutting off grants to such schools because of diplomatic tension, arguing it would violate the children’s right to an education and could foster ethnic discrimination.

Pro-Pyongyang schools have been operating in Japan since the 1950s by Koreans who remained here after being conscripted by the Japanese military during the war, or who came here to work or were brought over for forced labor.

Lee Ji Seon, a 27-year-old ethnic Korean resident of Japan, received his elementary, junior high and high school education at pro-Pyongyang schools in Shizuoka and Aichi prefectures. He now works at a Japanese television station after attending Beijing University and studying in the U.S.

Lee said he believes a healthy society should guarantee freedom of thought and belief, and cutting off subsidies to pro-Pyongyang schools would deprive children of their right to an education.

“What would these children think in the future about Japanese society if they are excluded” from receiving grants, Lee said.

He said that during Korean history lessons, he studied Kim Il Sung’s biography and his battle against the Japanese occupation forces, but said he didn’t feel pressured to assume loyalty to Pyongyang, nor did he feel “brainwashed,” as Hiroshi Nakai, former minister in charge of the North Korean abduction issue, once asserted.

“But what’s notable is that many classes were taught in Korean, aimed at nurturing ethnic consciousness,” he said, claiming that world and Japanese history classes were taught free of any propaganda.

Park Il, an economics professor at Osaka City University’s graduate school, is critical of Japan for its indifference toward international schools in general, and said it is “unbelievable” that municipalities such as Osaka are trying to meddle with the content of textbooks used in pro-Pyongyang schools.

“It’s like overseas Japanese schools being ordered by the respective local governments to revise sections in textbooks that mention the Imperial system,” he said.

“Furthermore, North Korea’s bombing of Yeonpyeong Island is unrelated to students studying in pro-Pyongyang schools — I believe it’s outrageous that public support of education could be cut off due to political friction,” he said.

With the March 31 end of fiscal 2010 and the deadline for granting subsidies for schools approaching, it appears certain the debate will intensify in the weeks to come.

Kim Myung Soo, a sociology professor at Kwansei Gakuin University, said it is likely pro-Pyongyang schools will sue the government if the subsidies for fiscal 2010 aren’t distributed.

Kim, who attended a pro-Pyongyang elementary school in Fukuoka Prefecture before switching over to a Japanese school, said it is essential that Japan work toward fighting racial discrimination and protecting foreign residents and minorities, rather than fostering ethnic divides.

“The government is acting emotionally and based on anti-North Korean sentiment. Cutting off subsidies will only send out the message that Japan doesn’t care about human rights,” he said.

UPDATE 1 (11/10/2010): Apparently Tokyo will not take the Chongryon school curricula into account in determining eligibility for subsidies. According to Japan Today:

The Liberal Democratic Party adopted a resolution Tuesday opposing the education ministry’s policy of not factoring in curricula when considering a tuition waiver for schools catering to pro-Pyongyang Korean residents of Japan.

Shigeru Yokota, whose daughter was abducted by North Korea in 1977 at age 13, also voiced opposition to the policy, saying, ‘‘Giving subsidies to (schools) that provide wrong education will cause trouble in the future.’‘

The main opposition party adopted the resolution at a joint meeting of intra-party panels on education and abduction issues. Yokota, 77, attended the gathering.

The government led by the Democratic Party of Japan has since April waived tuition for students who attend public senior high schools in line with the party’s pledge in the August 2009 general election.

Private and other schools equivalent to senior high schools also receive stipends for their students under the national program, but the pro-Pyongyang schools have so far been excluded, pending the establishment of criteria.

The ministry said Friday it has decided not to make the curricula of the pro-Pyongyang schools a factor in deciding whether they are eligible for subsidies under the tuition waiver program.

ORIGINAL POST (11/3/2010): According to the AP:

The Japanese education ministry has decided to ask pro- Pyongyang high schools in Japan to use Japanese textbooks of politics and economics when the government includes such high schools in its tuition waiver program, government sources said Tuesday.

The decision is apparently in response to concerns expressed by some lawmakers who have claimed that anti-Japan education is being conducted at these pro-Pyongyang ethnic schools for Korean residents in Japan.

The Japanese government is expected to formally approve a proposal by an education ministry panel to include pro-Pyongyang high schools in Japan in its tuition waiver program, possibly this week.

Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Yoshiaki Takaki appeared to have won the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s approval for the move at a meeting with DPJ Secretary General Katsuya Okada on Tuesday night, the sources said.

Given a law to respect the autonomy of individual schools’ education policies, including those of pro-Pyongyang schools, the Japanese government does not oblige the schools to purchase Japanese textbooks to benefit from the tuition waiver program, the sources said.

But given concerns about the inclusion of pro-Pyongyang schools in the tuition waiver program, the government will encourage students of these schools to use Japanese textbooks and learn the basics of Japanese society, such as the independence of legislative, administrative and judicial powers, they said.

Takaki is expected to require schools benefiting from the tuition waiver program to submit a document proving that money offered under the program was spent to cover students’ tuition, the sources said.

The government intends to formally decide on the inclusion of pro- Pyongyang schools in the tuition waiver program by the end of this year, and if it is decided, students will be eligible for the program, retroactive to April.

Under a law that took effect in April, senior high school students at Japanese public schools are exempt from tuition fees, while private and other schools equivalent to high schools receive between 118,800 yen to 237,600 yen annually per student depending on household income.

Foreign schools, such as international schools, are eligible for the tuition waiver program if they are recognized as equivalent to Japanese senior high schools after checks with their respective home countries, or if their curricula are accredited by international organizations.

But pro-Pyongyang schools have been excluded as, unlike other foreign schools, it could not be confirmed that they were equivalent to Japanese schools as Japan and North Korea do not have diplomatic ties.

The education ministry set up the panel to consider the eligibility criteria for the tuition waiver.

According to the education ministry, there are 10 pro-Pyongyang high schools in Japan, with an estimated 1,800 students.

Read the full stories here:
Pro-Pyongyang school wants tuitions waived
Kyodo News (via Japan Times)
3/8/2011

Recent tension, pro-North schools’ history spin hurt tuition waiver bid
The Japan Times
Alex Martin
2/5/2011

LDP opposes funding policy regarding pro-Pyongyang schools’ curricula
Japan Today
11/10/2010

Gov’t to ask pro-Pyongyang schools to buy Japanese text books
Associated Press (via Breitbart)
11/3/2010

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Kim Jong-un awarded honorary doctorate in economics

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

According to KCNA (2013-10-9):

Honorary Doctorate in Economics Awarded to Kim Jong Un in Malaysia

Pyongyang, October 9 (KCNA) — Supreme leader Kim Jong Un was awarded the degree of honorary doctor of economics from the Help University of Malaysia.

A ceremony for conveying the certificate and costume took place in Kuala Lumpur on October 3.

Present there were public figures of all social standings including the president of the university who is its establisher, the DPRK ambassador to the country and his embassy members.

The president said it is honor and historic event for his university to award the degree of honorary doctor to Kim Jong Un, who is the first foreign head of state to receive the degree by the university.

We decided to award the degree to Kim Jong Un who makes untiring efforts for the education of the country and the well-being of its people, the president said, adding that this is the pride of the university.

He hoped that the cooperation between the DPRK and Malaysia in the field of education would develop in the future.
The certificate and costume were handed over to the DPRK ambassador.

Foreign Policy follows up with helpful information.

 

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