asia · North Korea (DPRK) · Travel

My Journey Into North Korea (Part 8: The Elementary School)

Once again I’d just like to say thanks for following, people are obviously finding this series interesting as I’ve never had more followers joining in just one week! So I’d like to say thanks to those followers old and new and hope you continue to enjoy what I write about.   If you’re new to this series then welcome to the blog and in particular this series about my journey into North Hamgyong province in the DPRK.  You can find all of the other parts here:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 and Part 7 I hope you enjoy it 🙂

Originally I wasn’t going to dedicate a whole segment to the elementary school but we were there for a good few hours, and looking back on my photographs and video I actually have quite a lot of material and I think it will be of particular interest to see the manifestation of pure brainwashing in children.

propaganda edits-5

I’ve used this picture in a previous post, but I want to use it as a showpiece to convey the level of brainwashing present in the schools in the DPRK.  Regardless of your political stance, whether you’re far left, far right or in between I think we can all agree that a mural of a nuclear missile is not appropriate artwork for an elementary school and if this isn’t an effort to engrain a war against the west into the minds of children then I don’t know what is.

The video below is one of many I have from the school performances, it was encouraged for us to film these performances, and I don’t think they realised how odd this kind of stuff looks to the outside world.

Youtube link to video

When we first arrived at the school we saw a mini amusement park type thing going on in the playground, I’m not even going to criticise this part, because if I had that kind of stuff to play on when I was a little kid I would have been made up, although it looks like it could crumble to the ground in a matter of seconds.


It’s the first time since I’ve started this series that I will actually lambaste the DPRK, from the moment we arrived at the elementary school we were shown performance after performance of tiny children that must have been trained to the brink of insanity to perform to the level they did.


These kids gave some insanely impressive performances, they should be applauded but the process to get them to this point should be condemned.  We condemn the practices that go on at SeaWorld in training and holding their killer whales in captivity, this is basically the same thing but with children.  They are being made to do things that they don’t want to do and we can only speculate what the processes are like to attain this level of perfection


This photo shows just how tiny these little kids were and I think it struck a nerve in me, as back in China I was teaching kids this age who were naturally little nutcases who drove me insane on occasions but they were so full of life, lovable and doing what they enjoyed doing which is why I tried to make my lessons fun and allow them to enjoy what they were learning instead of forcing them…you know treating kids how they should be treated, allowing them to have fun and smile.


The image below shows their closing ceremony, the synchronicity was astounding, they were singing and moving together like little Korean androids, while very impressive it made me pretty sad to see kids performing under this level of pressure, knowing that somebody behind closed doors is cracking the whip, figuratively of course… :/


As soon as the music stopped and they finally got to chill out for a bit, those plastic smiles almost pinned to their faces dropped off, when we got close you could see that there wasn’t a smile in sight, they were slathered in makeup and looked absolutely exhausted.


Well, this concludes what I think has been an interesting yet sad insight into the elementary schools of the DPRK.  As previously mentioned this series will be coming to a close soon, I think I will end with a long one discussing the general feeling about the trip, more miscellaneous photos of interest and some DPRK stories.  Cheers, stay tuned as there’s still more to come and after this I will be moving onto South Korea, China and Japan.  Once again, thanks for reading and thanks for following 🙂





7 thoughts on “My Journey Into North Korea (Part 8: The Elementary School)

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