The people’s committee of North Hamgyong Province recently convened an “emergency meeting” of local education officials to pressure educators into subscribing to North Korea’s social insurance scheme. 

A source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK last Friday that the education department of the provincial people’s committee hosted an emergency meeting of local education officials on Jan. 13, with the “organizational secretary” of the provincial party in attendance. The meeting called on “highly conscious educational revolutionaries” to “understand and join” the state’s social insurance system.

North Korea adopted a new law on “social insurance and social guarantees” during the 13th Plenary Meeting of the 14th Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Assembly, which was held in Mar. 2020. 

With the public showing little understanding or even interest in the new social insurance system a full year after the law’s adoption, the authorities have recently begun actively encouraging people to join, the source said. 

The people’s committee of North Hamgyong Province convened the meeting so that its education department could explain to local education officials what the law is and why it is a good thing, all with a view to get educators to become subscribers. 

A screenshot of explanatory materials for the insurance scheme that Daily NK obtained last year. / Image: Daily NK

The meeting focused on explaining the legislation that created the new social insurance system. Officials underscored that education officials and educators should take the lead in executing socialist laws “with a high level of awareness as ‘educational revolutionaries.’”

The meeting further emphasized to attendees that it is “natural for educators to take the lead in thinking about rights to social guarantees, and that all of this would play a decisive role in protecting the gains of the revolution and developing the system.”

Moreover, the meeting called on education officials to spend three days following the meeting (until Jan. 16) educating every university, high school, middle, elementary, and kindergarten teacher and employee about these ideas and encourage their subscription to the insurance scheme.

The province’s educational authorities ordered attendees to get educators to accept subscription to the social insurance system as “necessary” and even encourage subscriptions by “threatening to raise insurance premiums rates from next month if they do not join this month.”

The source said many education officials and educators have expressed uncertainty toward joining the insurance scheme. Doubting that the state can realistically provide social insurance when it has no money, many wonder if the system amounts to a “government cash grab.”

Meanwhile, North Hamgyong Province’s people’s committee plans to get the entire province involved in the insurance system, beginning with the education sector before moving onto all other sectors on the provincial, city, and county levels. 

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.

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Jong So Yong is one of Daily NK's freelance reporters. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.