North Korea Table of Contents
Sudents at the Grand People's Study House, and
Courtesy Cho Yung Soon
Outside the formal structure of schools and classrooms is the extremely important "social education." This education includes not only extracurricular activities but also family life and the broadest range of human relationships within society. There is great sensitivity to the influence of the social environment on the growing child and its role in the development of his or her character. The ideal of social education is to provide a carefully controlled environment in which children are insulated from bad or unplanned influences. According to a North Korean official interviewed in 1990, "School education is not enough to turn the rising generation into men of knowledge, virtue, and physical fitness. After school, our children have many spare hours. So it's important to efficiently organize their afterschool education."
In his 1977 "Theses on Socialist Education," Kim Il Sung described the components of social education. In the Pioneer Corps and the Socialist Working Youth League (SWYL), young people learn the nature of collective and organizational life; some prepare for membership in the Korean Workers' Party. In students' and schoolchildren's halls and palaces, managed by the SWYL Central Committee, young people participate in many extracurricular activities after school. There also are cultural facilities such as libraries and museums, monuments and historical sites of the Korean revolution, and the mass media dedicated to serving the goals of social education. Huge, lavishly appointed "schoolchildren's palaces" with gymnasiums and theaters have been built in P'yongyang, Mangyngdae, and other sites. These palaces provide political lectures and seminars, debating contests, poetry recitals, and scientific forums. The Students' and Children's Palace in P'yongyang attracted some 10,000 children daily in the early 1990s.
Although North Korean children would not seem to have much time to spend at home, the family's status as the "basic unit" of society also makes it a focus of social education. According to a North Korean publication, when "homes are made revolutionary," parents are "frugal . . . courteous, exemplary in social and political life," and children have proper role models.
Data as of June 1993