Forbes Zone : Education or compulsory work?

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Economically, politically and socially, North Korea is one of the most isolated and closed countries in the world. In 1948, Kim Il Sung, the first leader and founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), established a compulsory education system to justify his rule.

How does the education system work in a country where there is no internet and all the movements and residences and even breathing of the citizens are subject to the government?

How does the higher education system of this country work? Before that, it is not bad to mention some generalities. The fact is that few people have real information about what is going on in this country. North Korea is a land cut off from the world.

What is said about this country is obtained in several ways: 1- Citizens who managed to escape from this country. 2- A handful of tourists who have entered this country.\

3- A handful of students who leave their lives to study in this country. The following report is the “fingerprint” of students who have been able to defy everything and study in North Korea.

It is very interesting to hear and read the first-hand accounts of such people about what is really happening inside this country.

James Hore, who set up the British Embassy in North Korea, visited the Kim Il Sung University (KIS) campus when he first arrived in the country in the early 2000s.

He got the feeling that the computers there were showpieces for Western visitors. “You occasionally see a computer,” he says. “But if you looked closely, it wasn’t actually connected.

” It is still unlikely that these are connected to the Internet. This Briton says; Not only people but also many academics do not have access to the web at all. Even in North Korea’s trade and foreign ministries, access is “extremely limited.”

Instead, most people in the country use the “Kwangmyong” intranet, which translates to “bright light”.

The situation was different for Chinese students. They have a computer room with unlimited internet access. Chinese international students play online video games without any interference. North Korean students do not dare to enter the Chinese computer room.

However, the country’s academics also have limited access to relatively up-to-date international journals; However, they may have been censored in some way.

In their dictionary, the approach of Western culture is “spread and destroy”. However, some North Korean researchers are clearly struggling to get their work published in international journals.

Sigley once recounted how one of his professors asked him to arrange for his work to be shared with a professor in Australia.

When North Korean academics realize that they cannot publish their work in foreign journals (because they lack scientific support), they often turn to “predatory journals”.

Reliable, only by receiving a fee from the author, they will accept and print the article regardless of its quality and content. This issue has been confirmed by Leonid Petrov, a North Korean researcher at the Australian National University.

“They have an insular mindset that doesn’t allow them to ask critical questions or think freely, improvise or be creative,” he says. Even when so-called international conferences are held at Kim Il-sung University, speech is strictly controlled.

Around 2000, North Korea lifted its previous restrictions on who could become a scientist, making it easier for bright students from weaker social backgrounds to enter. “The regime is essentially saying, ‘It doesn’t matter if your second uncle played a prank on the leader this year,'” says Petrov. you know what? “[North Korea’s] missiles have started to fly — instead of falling during tests like in the past.” Despite some progress in certain areas of the hard sciences [natural sciences including physics, chemistry, geology, and many parts of biology], North Korean universities remain weak.

His humanities and social sciences are at the lowest possible level. “The humanities are a show for them,” says Andrey Lankov, professor of Korean studies at Kumkin University in South Korea. Something similar to embroidery.” However, Yun Jung Lee, a professor at the Free University of Berlin and the director of the Korean Studies Institute of that university, says: “You have to see the other side of the coin. Most North Korean students are the best in their courses. Although they are shy, they are very active in discussions. “Professors and universities also try to avoid violating rules related to sensitive issues or making comments that directly criticize North Korean leaders.”