North Korea’s Best Cultural Art Institute, “Keumsung Institute”

[imText1]The “Pretty girl cheering team” from North Korea who participated in the 16th Asian Athletics Championship once again became a big issue.

North Korea has requested to call them “Young Adults Student Cooperation Team” rather than cheering team and expressed discomfort even at the expression of “pretty women.” Despite their effort, the team soon caused formation of fan clubs among the South Korean young men and creation of internet fan club sites as well. They are known as the girls who not only have attractive appearance but are talented in arts and sports as well, the students who have been trained in Keumsung Institute.

When Mankyongdae Student Young Body Palace was built in May 1989, Keumsung Institute was established the next year to train professional cultural artists as “Keunsung 1 High Middle School.” Keumsung means Gold-Star, which in North Korea, refers to Kim Il Sung and a name put to the best institutes. In 2002, the high middle school became only middle school, then in 2003 became the present Keumsung Institute. .

Renowned for High Standard Physical Appearance, Excellent Talents

The candidates are selected from the pool of the students between age 16 to 20 with special talents, and requires high standard physical appearance. Since the common people cannot train their children in arts due to the high cost, it is said that most of the students of Keumsung Institue are children of (party) cadres.

Yoo Ji Sung, a graduate of Pyongyang Music School (University) said, “Parents’ desire to educate children well is the same in North Korea. Cadres bribe and use all sorts of methods to sent their children to Keumsung Institute, which is the best arts school.”

Keumsung Institute has goal of “training students to become the best in the specific field” and the students receive high level one to one lessons. The complete course includes four years of people’s school (elementary), six years of middle school and four years of specific area school. After the morning classes, the students learn science, sports, instruments, studio art, literature, dance and other arts in the afternoon..

The cheer team who participated in 2002 Asian Game were girls from brass band of Keumsung Institute. After their graduation, they are sent to the orchestras in the government offices such as People’s Safety Agency and Ministry of Railways.

After such high level training, only the ones with good skills are selected to join the art institutions such as Mansudae Arts Group, Pyongyang circus troupe, and Arts Propaganda Group, Pibada Theatrical Group. Sometimes those not only highly talented but also with above standard physical appearance are selected to join the pleasure group.