North Korea’s education ministry recently issued instructions to schools about what activities they should plan for on the first day of school following the end of the country’s extended winter vacation, which is set to end on Apr. 15, Daily NK has learned.

The release of details about what schools should do on the first day of school suggests that educational authorities will not delay the school year past Apr. 15, sources in North Korea told Daily NK on Mar. 19. 

A DETAILED SET OF INSTRUCTIONS

In the orders, the education ministry told schools that the new school year will start at 8 AM on Apr. 17 (North Korea takes two days off to celebrate Kim Il Sung’s birthday on Apr. 15, meaning the school year will officially start on Apr. 17). After arriving at school, students are to read aloud an “oath” related to Kim Il Sung’s birthday and start classes at 9 AM.

The education ministry also reportedly ordered elementary, middle and high schools to conduct two 45-minute periods and for universities to hold three 90-minute lecture periods on the first day. 

North Korean schools are typically on winter break until Feb. 16 (Kim Jong Il’s birthday). Typically, the first month of a new school year is focused on reviewing material from the past year. Sometimes, students review material that was not covered in the previous year. 

Education authorities in the country, however, have reportedly condensed this review period into the space of a week.

“At the start of a new school year, first year middle students typically review what they learned in fifth grade at the elementary schools they graduated from,” one source explained. “The extended winter break this year has led to a situation where first year middle school students will take these review classes at middle schools, instead of elementary schools.” 

First year high school students will also have to take their review classes at their new high schools, instead of the middle schools they graduated from, the source added. 

NO OFFICIAL CONFIRMATION FROM STATE MEDIA

On Mar. 19, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification released information about North Korea’s extended winter break based on the country’s media reports. 

The ministry, however, said that North Korean media reports failed to mention when the extended vacation period will end. 

North Korean state media has mentioned the extended winter break on multiple occasions. 

For example, Rodong Sinmun made reference to the extended winter vacation in an article published on Mar. 13, reporting, “Following the announcement of extended vacations for students, the central emergency disease control command, educational institutions, local neighborhood watch units and families have all urged students not to travel more than necessary.”

Daily NK sources reported on Mar. 16 that the ministry had issued an “urgent” order directing all schools to delay the start of the new semester until Apr. 15. Schools are closed for two days to celebrate Kim Il Sung’s birthday on Apr. 15, “so the start of the school semester will probably be Apr. 17,” one Daily NK source reported at the time. 

On Mar. 21, Daily NK reported that North Korean officials had delayed the start of the new school year by a month, a week before the school closures were confirmed by North Korea’s state media.

*Translated by Violet Kim

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

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Ha Yoon Ah is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. Please direct any questions about her articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.