One Ton of Coals Let Them Rest at Home

[imText1]Buying food from outside the camps is, however, the privilege only for the wealthy students. Students who came from privileged families often are excluded from the military trainings for one or two months. The training is notorious for hardness, and hence students from the high authorities offer bribes with money or goods to military officers in return for taking rests at home.

For instance, if one ton of coals were offered to a training camp, a student can rest for a month; a box of cigarette, the “Cat” which costs 1,500 won (approx. US$4.8), is worth a day’s break.

With wealthy students out of training, the rest of students suffer from more than double the hardness. Often, poor students end up patrolling for 8 to 10 hours during national holidays and New Year’s Day.

Girl students in the training have their hair cut shortly and cannot keep private things; even cosmetics are not allowed. Therefore, wealthy girl students take their time at home with bribery.

Even during the training period, the students must take lectures. The basic subjects taught during the training are “The Unification History of the Fatherland” and “History of the Invasion of Japanese Imperialism,” and also includes a few majors.

The lectures, however, are often cut off to make room for the farm supporting activity and national performances.

According to the educational schedules, the college lasts four years, not including the training period; however, the time for lectures generally take only two of those years.

In spring and fall, students take part in the farm supporting activity to transplant rice for 40 days in spring and to harvest for 30 to 40 days during fall. Additionally, students from nationally renowned universities are often brought to various national performances. For six to eight months, students do not take lectures in order to practice military parades for Kim Jong Il’s birthday on the 16th of February and Kim Il Sung’s birthday on the 15th of April.

For torchlight processions, students take practices for two to three months. The torchlight processions are held usually in the Foundation Day of the State and the North Korean Workers’ Party, with more than ten thousand university students participating in the event. Students also practice dancing for another two to three months for students’ dancing party at the Kim Il Sung Plaza, which is held during the Chinese New Years’ Day.

That is not all, however. Working in the subsidiary farms that belong to the universities takes students a few months. Students who make the survey on the revolutionary historic spots and the Korean War landmarks are also exempt from the lectures for a few months.

In the end of a semester, reducing the day for lectures is not a special thing. The students do take lectures more intensively and even on Sundays to remedy this as necessary.

Questions or comments about this article? Contact us at