Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

PUST holds second graduation ceremony

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

PUST-Google-Earth-2014-11-25

Pictured Above (Google Earth): PUST

On Wednesday 19th November, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) held its second graduation ceremony of 2014, at the campus in the south side of Pyongyang.

100 undergraduate students in science and technology received Bachelor degrees from the co-Presidents of PUST, in the presence of foreigners and diplomats including ambassadors from Europe, Asia and Latin America and UN representatives.

These new graduates are the first year-group of students, who came to PUST in October 2010, when the university began classes in electrical and electronic engineering, computer science; agriculture and life sciences; and finance and management. Some will remain at PUST as graduate students and most others will go to various DPRK state universities for further study. PUST is also active in sending graduate students for both short-term and long-term study abroad, at European and Asian universities, under various partnerships and scholarship schemes.

For more details please see the Press Release (PDF).

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Second session of 13th Supreme People’s Assembly

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

UPDATE 3 (2014-9-25): Kim Jong-un did not attend the SPA meeting.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

North Korea’s young leader wasn’t in his customary seat as the country convened its rubber-stamp parliament Thursday, adding to South Korean media speculation that Kim Jong Un may be ill.

Only part of the meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly was shown on state TV, but Mr. Kim wasn’t present and apparently missed the meeting for the first time since he took power after the death of his father Kim Jong Il in December 2011, according to an official for the South’s Unification Ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity because of office rules.

The usually ubiquitous Mr. Kim, the third member of his family to rule the country, hasn’t been seen in state media since attending a Pyongyang concert on Sept. 3. He was shown limping on television in July and again earlier this month, and South Korean media have speculated that Kim has been ill, although there has been no discussion of the absence in the North’s state-run media.

According to Reuters:

Kim, who is considerably overweight, has not featured in state media broadcasts since appearing at a concert alongside his wife and former state entertainer Ri Sol Ju this month.

In July, he was seen walking with a limp at an event with key officials.

But analysts warned against reading too much into Kim’s absence.

“Kim Jong Il didn’t attend every time, either,” said Chris Green, a North Korea expert at Seoul-based Daily NK website. “Moreover, we know that the SPA primarily performs a demonstrative function, it is not a true decision-making body.”

UPDATE 2 (2104-9-25): KCNA reports on the second session of the 13th SPA. Most of the copy is dedicated to continuing education reforms, however at the end of the article, personnel changes at the National Defense Commission are announced:

It recalled Deputy Choe Ryong Hae from the post of vice-chairman of the National Defence Commission (NDC) of the DPRK due to his transfer to other post and Deputy Jang Jong Nam from the post of member of the NDC of the DPRK due to his transfer to other post.

It elected Deputy Hwang Pyong So to fill the vacancy as vice-chairman of the NDC of the DPRK and Deputies Hyon Yong Chol and Ri Pyong Chol to fill the vacancy as members of the NDC of the DPRK at the proposal of Marshal Kim Jong Un.

This list of NDC members (as of October 2013 )can be found here.

Reuters notes:

At the meeting, state media said, Choe Ryong Hae had been removed from the post of vice chairman of the National Defence Commission, a body chaired by Kim, and was replaced by Hwang Pyong So.

Hwang is a member of a powerful faction created in the 1970s under former leader Kim Jong Il, the father of the current leader, to boost a personality cult around his family.

Choe had been widely seen as a new right-hand man to Kim Jong Un after he purged his uncle last year, but had since fallen back into the shadows.

“Hwang’s appointment as NDC Vice Chairman shows that he has truly risen to become the regime’s de facto number two official,” said Michael Madden, a North Korean leadership expert and contributor to the 38 North website.

Hwang was appointed “according to the wishes of Marshall Kim Jong Un”, the North’s official KCNA news agency said.

Here is the full story:

2nd Session of 13th Supreme People’s Assembly of DPRK Held

Pyongyang, September 25 (KCNA) — The 2nd Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) of the DPRK was held at the Mansudae Assembly Hall Thursday.

Present there were deputies to the SPA.

Officials of the party, armed forces and power organs, public organizations, ministries, national institutions and the fields of science, education, literature and art, public health and media attended it as observers.

All the participants observed a moment’s silence in memory of President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il.

SPA Chairman Choe Thae Bok made an opening address.

The session discussed agenda items on summing up the implementation of “On Enforcing Universal 12-Year Compulsory Education”, the Ordinance of the SPA of the DPRK, and an organizational matter.

Deputy Pak Pong Ju, premier of the Cabinet, made a report on the first agenda item.

The reporter said that the 6th Session of the 12th SPA held in September, Juche 101 (2012) promulgated Ordinance on Enforcing Universal 12-Year Compulsory Education in line with the new requirements of the developing revolution.

According to the report, a work for successfully enforcing the schooling has been dynamically pushed forward as the one involving the whole state, all people and the whole society and signal successes have been made in it.

The work for operating the six-year secondary schools by dividing them into three-year junior secondary schools and three-year senior secondary schools has been wound up in a brief span of time. The first phase programs for the universal 12-year compulsory education were worked out in a matter of one and half years and textbooks of new contents and style were compiled.

Expenditure has been increased in educational field at the state budget, the State Planning Commission, the Ministry of Finance, provincial people’s committees and relevant institutions have ensured funds needed for educational work as planned, thus strengthening the material and technological foundation of schools.

Over the past two years since the promulgation of the ordinance new classrooms have been built or constructed on an expansion basis at schools across the country and many school things produced.

The reporter referred to the tasks facing the field of education.

He underlined the need to build well the ranks of teachers and decisively raise their qualifications and roles.

The general senior secondary schools should teach students with main emphasis on general secondary knowledge and senior secondary technical schools should make preparations in a responsible manner for giving education in basic technology to suit the economic and geographical peculiarities of the relevant areas while giving general education in conformity with the operation of senior secondary technical schools, new type schooling, on a trial basis, he noted.

He also underlined the need to positively push ahead with the work for putting the nation’s universal general secondary education including genius education on a new high stage, reinforce the research forces at educational and scientific research institutions and increase their responsibilities and roles.

He called for improving the conditions and environment for education to be fit for the appearance of a highly civilized socialist country.

Speakers at the session renewed their resolution to decisively improve the quality of education to meet the realistic requirements of the developing education in the age of knowledge-based economy and suit the trend of the world and thus train the younger generation as more dependable revolutionary talents of Juche type equipped with perfect general secondary knowledge, modern basic technological knowledge and creative ability.

The session adopted “On Comprehensively Enforcing Universal 12-Year Compulsory Education and Decisively Improving Its Quality”, the Decision of the SPA of the DPRK.

It discussed the second agenda item.

It recalled Deputy Choe Ryong Hae from the post of vice-chairman of the National Defence Commission (NDC) of the DPRK due to his transfer to other post and Deputy Jang Jong Nam from the post of member of the NDC of the DPRK due to his transfer to other post.

It elected Deputy Hwang Pyong So to fill the vacancy as vice-chairman of the NDC of the DPRK and Deputies Hyon Yong Chol and Ri Pyong Chol to fill the vacancy as members of the NDC of the DPRK at the proposal of Marshal Kim Jong Un.

UPDATE 1 (2014-9-18): The Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES) reports on the DPRK’s education policy:

North Korea Prioritizes Budget Support for the Modernization of Education in the Age of Knowledge-Based Economy

A September 6, 2014 article in the Rodong Sinmun reported that First Chairman of the National Defence Commission Kim Jong Un has begun to usher in a “revolution in education for the new century” and emphasized the need to construct a “world power of socialist education in the 21st century” at the 13th National Meeting of Educators held on Sept. 5.

At the meeting, Kim Jong Un’s work, entitled, “Let Us Make a Revolution in Education in the New Century to Glorify Our Country as the One of Education and a Power of Talents” was presented to participants.

In his work, Kim Jong Un advocates for this “revolution in education for the new century,” saying, “Education is part of an unending patriotic plan for the wealth and prosperity of the nation and the people.” The work emphasizes, “How we educate our posterity will be the determining factor of the nation’s power and the propagation of the revolution.”

Kim Jong Un also stated, “The goal to be attained by the revolution in education in the new century is to turn the country into a power of socialist education in the 21st century by bringing up all school youth and children as reliable pillars for the building of a thriving nation and educating all the people to be well versed in science and technology.” To achieve this, Kim Jong Un emphasized that the “decisive strengthening” of secondary education is the fundamental link of the education revolution.

He states, “Just as how trees with the strongest roots grow the perfect fruit, secondary education must be strengthened in order to produce talented individuals and raise the overall level of intelligence of workers.”

He continues, “In order to realize the grand goal of the revolution in education for the new century, the strong leadership guidance provided by the Party’s Juche-based education ideology and policy must be implemented according to the demands of the generation and the development of the revolution.”

More specifically, his work mentions the importance of improving the education system: “An important task facing the revolution in education in the new century is to round off the educational system and improve the guidance and management of the educational work in order to successfully train talents of new type required by the era.”

Kim Jong Un also emphasized the need to rear wholesome, well-rounded children from the time they are young while at home, school, and out in society. Furthermore, he stated, “The education in the age of knowledge-based economy should not be the one for letting students learn existing knowledge but it should be developed in the direction of putting its contents on a practical, comprehensive and modern basis so that students may grasp faster new and useful knowledge and more successfully apply them in practice.”

In order to accomplish this, Kim Jong Un said, “All the fields should regard the educational work as part of their work, always pay deep attention to it and help solve the issues arising in the field of education in a responsible manner.”

ORIGINAL POST (2014-9-4): According to KCNA:

DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly to Be Convened

Pyongyang, September 5 (KCNA) — The Second Session of the 13th Supreme People’s Assembly of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea will be held in Pyongyang on September 25, Juche 103 (2014).

A relevant decision of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly was promulgated on Sept. 4.

Information on the first session of the 13th SPA can be found here.

Information on the election of the 13th SPA can be found here.

Here is what the Daily NK has to say:

It is the norm for the SPA to convene each spring to carry out the core responsibilities of ratifying personnel changes and hearing budgetary reports. Two of the more noteworthy results of the meeting in April this year were then-Director of the KPA General Political Department Choe Ryong Hae being made a deputy in the National Defense Commission, and Ri Su Yong being handed the foreign affairs portfolio. Ri, a seasoned diplomat, is scheduled to speak to the UN General Assembly later this month.

Conversely, second sessions do not occur every year as a matter of course; rather, they are convened when necessary for the accomplishment of Workers’ Party objectives. One such session convened on September 25th, 2012, for instance, resulted in wide-ranging changes to the state education system, most notably the addition of a 12th year of mandatory schooling.

As a result, attention is set to focus on personnel shifts and the possibility of major policy announcements.

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Norwegians seeking to set up art school in DPRK

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

According to the Art Newspaper:

The North Korean government has approved plans by two Norwegian artists to open an art academy in the country. Henrik Placht and Morten Traavik travelled to North Korea together for the first time in August to flesh out the proposal and to look for potential sponsors. So far they have received financial support from the Prince Claus Fund.

The academy is due to be called DMZ after the term for the Korean demilitarised zone. It will primarily be an academy for North Korean students, but the plan is to open it up for international exchange programmes, Placht says.

“One of the reasons for us going to North Korea is that we don’t believe in sanctions and the boycott of art,” Placht tells The Art Newspaper. “Next year we are planning an exhibition and workshop in North Korea, in co-operation with the North Korean government, which will feature well-known international artists as well as North Korean artists,” he adds.

The artists already have good contacts in North Korea thanks to Traavik, who has produced several art projects in the country—some in response to North Korea’s dictatorship. In 2012, Traavik organised The Promised Land, a performance in Kirkenes, northern Norway, in which North Koreans holding flags instructed more than 200 Norwegian soldiers to create sequences of images using individual placards.

That same year, Traavik also produced the first Norwegian arts festival in North Korea, “Yes, we love this country”, named after Norway’s national anthem. Meanwhile, earlier this year, he arranged for musicians from the Kum Song Music School to come to Bergen in western Norway to perform a Norwegian children’s play.

Placht also has experience setting up academies in extreme political contexts. In 2002, he founded the International Academy of Art Palestine, where he was a project director until 2009. “I will be able to draw on my experiences in Palestine when it comes to fundraising, curating and co-operating with the government,” Placht says. “But I will also seek to create trust with North Korea so that they will have a natural ownership of the academy.”

More information here.

Read the full story here:
Norwegian artists plan to open art academy in North Korea
Art Newspaper
Hanne Cecilie Gulstad
2014-8-28

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North Korea increases production of consumer goods according to consumer demands and preferences

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-8-25

Due to the strengthening of capitalism and competition in North Korean society, it appears that the status of consumers has risen considerably.

In the North Korean economy — which has clung to a supply-oriented, planned economic model — it is extremely rare to see production change in response to consumer demands and preferences.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, published an editorial on August 3, 2014, calling for the “Brisk Opening of the August Third Consumer Goods Production Movement.” This editorial encourages the public by assuring that the consumer products will be made according to the needs and demands of the people.

“A socialist society cannot think about the production of consumer goods that are above the reaches of the people,” the editorial emphasizes, and that “the peoples’ demands and interests are [the Party’s] absolute top priority, and it is the noble duty of the Party to create these desired consumer goods for the people to enjoy.”

Through the use of various media, North Korea has propagandized the “consumer-focused” policy, claiming to have spurred competition and the increase in quality of products and services throughout the nation.

Joguk (Motherland), a media outlet of the pro-North Korean General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, published an article in their August 2014 issue entitled, “The Standard of Competition Is Determined by the People.” The article emphasizes production tailored to consumer demands, saying that “Product evaluation is something which can be done only by those who demand and directly use the product; it can only be done by the general public.”

The article further states that “Products popular among the general public and used by the masses are evaluated accordingly for their high quality.” It also mentions the cosmetic brands “Eunhasu” and “Pomhyanggi” as examples.

In a July 30, 2014 article, the Choson Sinbo introduced the Potong River Shoe Factory, which is responsible for the production of popular products such as the so-called “kill heel” high-heeled shoes, wedge-heeled shoes, and pointed stilettos. By working together with a department store and periodically reviewing customers’ feedback, the Potong River Shoe Factory can produce shoes to cater to shoppers’ preferences.

This method of setting the focus on consumer evaluation can also be found in North Korea’s education system.

On August 7, 2014, the Rodong Sinmun introduced the “bottom-up evaluation” system at Kim Jong Suk Middle School. This process, touted as one of the successes of educational reform, allows students to evaluate their teachers once per semester. By creating competition among educators, this system is expected to have effects all across the nation.

These types of changes are said to have close relations to the Kim Jong Un regime’s policy focusing on light industry, which also accounts for the improvement of standards of living for the people.

It appears that unlike the heavy chemical industry previously emphasized by the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il regimes, light industry must consider not only production amounts, but the quality of the products as well. This inevitably leads to the emphasis being put on consumer product reviews.

Through consumer reviews, competition arises and productivity is increased, leading to the production of consumer goods with higher added value. Despite being called a “Socialist Competition,” in reality this system may not be so different from capitalism.

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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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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.

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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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