In the News – 150 Students to Launch Cross-DMZ Ride
A group of university students will launch a journey all the way across the DMZ by bicycle with a ceremony on Yeouido tomorrow.
The event, which is being supported financially by the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, has been organized by two student organizations, Youth and Students Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea and Youth Future Forum.
A group of more than 150 students is expected to travel 218.38km along the DMZ, learning about national security as they take in the sights and sounds of the counties of Goseong, Inje, Yanggu, Hwacheon, Cheorwon and Yeoncheon, and Paju City.
Last summer I spent two weeks as an English language partner to North Korean defector middle and high school students in a small town on the outskirts of Seoul. After four years, I found myself once again immersed in the complex jungle of teenage angst, hormones, and emotions. Well, I know from my university experience that those unpredictable attitudes and moods don’t necessarily go away when you get older and that everyone manages to overcome his inner-teenager individually. But, I remember that while we did our best to think about what kind of activities would be both fun and advantageous to our seventeen through twenty-year-old students, at least one person would say something along the lines of our need to understand that these students weren’t just defectors preparing for new lives in South Korea; they were also hormonally driven teenagers on the brink of young love, experiencing their first infatuations, and learning the art of flirtation. I did not notice too many hormonal imbalances erupting before my eyes, but what about attraction and relationships in North Korea? To go even further, what about sex in North Korea?
“A North Korean couple has a picnic along the Taedong River in Pyongyang, North Korea” (AP Photo/Vincent Yu).
Notorious for a reputation of severe control and discipline, to what extent does the North Korean regime play a role in sexual intimacy? According to Radio Free Asia, the simple answer is that “when it comes to the privacy of the bedroom, even the all-powerful North Korean Workers’ Party is largely hands-off” (Love and Sex in North Korea). Continue reading →
In the News – Students Targeted for Rocket ‘Rumors’
North Korea detains university students over a failed rocket launch.
North Korean students work on their computers at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, April 11, 2012.
Authorities in North Korea are hunting down college students suspected of “spreading rumors” about a recent failed rocket launch amid warnings the reclusive state may stage a nuclear test.
North Korea defied international warnings and fired a long-range rocket on April 13 saying that it would carry a satellite into space, but the rocket crashed into the sea just minutes after takeoff, drawing condemnation from the U.S. and its allies who called the act a “provocative” move.
New leader Kim Jong Un had shrugged off international concerns and pushed ahead with the launch in conjunction with the 100th birthday of his grandfather Kim Il Sung, the deceased founder of the state.
Now, according to students, security personnel at some universities in North Korea are being instructed to take those who talk about the rocket failure into custody.
“The authorities are hunting down students who have spread rumors about the failed launch of the Kwangmyung-sung-3 [satellite] at the Hoeryong Teacher Training College (now renamed Kim Jong Suk Teacher Training College),” said one student from North Hamyong province, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Continue reading →
Having looked at various articles after the death of Kim Jong-Il, I started to reflect upon the Korean friends who identified with North Korea in Japan and the few North Korean people that I knew personally. Of course, their opinions could not be anymore diverse because of the different backgrounds they had come from or the different perspectives that they held. Also, the relationship that my Korean friends in Japan had to North Korea is very different from the students who had actually been born in North Korea and escaped while they were still so young.
While I researched the Korean minority in Japan last summer before my internship with the Ministry of Unification, I had the opportunity to interview a few people who had visited North Korea while they were high school students. Until North Korean education schools in Japan had started to request more government support from the Japanese government, the classrooms had featured pictures of the two Kim leaders as a regulation declared by North Korean administration who had in the past received visits from teachers who would report on the progress of the children’s education. Therefore, I had asked my interviewees about their thoughts on Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il.
In my schooling I don’t remember learning anything about North Korea. At all. If anything existed in my U.S. History book about the Korean War and its aftermath, it was not only glossed over by my class but also completely ignored by myself since we were promised that it wasn’t necessary for the AP History Test (it was, to my dismay). All I ever knew about North Korea was based on a magazine cover that was held by push-pins onto the bulletin board in our history classroom—an ominous cartoon of Kim Jung Il and lots of nukes. In college I didn’t learn much more—in my class in Korea I learned about the Korean War and resulting separation of the Koreas, but nothing about North Korea after the fact. All I’ve learned about North Korea has been from an International Relations class that had a week focused on dealing with nuclear war and the internship this summer. Continue reading →
A little over a year ago I had been studying in Japan and had decided to start learning Korean and Korean history when I returned for another academic year in America. At that time I had often talked about getting involved in North Korean issues because I was close to the Korean community in Japan and had heard about North Korean children who continue to suffer from the famines of the previous decades and from the uninterrupted lack of food. I had studied with a few students from South Korea during that time and I was surprised that I had more interest in human rights issues in North Korea. Because I had grown up in Los Angeles, I was very accustomed to the large Korean-American community in my neighborhood, and they had given me the impression of a very strong ethnic identity that to me would imply, if not a connection, a concern for the state of human rights in North Korea. After inquiring into the differences between the students that I had encountered in Japan and the Korean-American community I knew in America, it seems that South Koreans are more concerned with getting by – their children have to go to school, they have to pay for their daily expenses – unification would suggest an increase in taxes and economic burdens. So the issue of human rights in North Korea does not receive so much attention in everyday life and when it does it is often the same story.