NKSC’s Unification Education programs, October 2014
October was full of much-anticipated Unification Education programs for the NKSC. Read on to hear about how these very interesting and diverse school visits went!
1. Where did we visit?
As the winds got colder into Fall, the Unification Education team were hard at work, crisscrossing South Korea visiting schools throughout the country from Seoul to Busan via Daegu. We visited: in Seoul – the Seoul Foreign School (SFS), Incheon Dongyang Middle School; in Daegu- the Gyungshin Middle School and Gunam Middle School; and in Busan- numerous visits to the Busan Culture Girl’s High School.
2. Closing the gap
So, how did the Unification Education programs go?
The NKSC’s Unification Education team’s ‘A Unification conversation bringing together North and South Korean teenagers’ is special aspect of the program that gives an opportunity for students to directly participate. Before the formal presentation is an opportunity for the students and the Unification Education spokesperson (a young North Korean defector) to interact more closely. A photo exhibition showing life of ordinary citizens in North Korea, as well as light-hearted and fun stickers as presents for the students to take with them are given out.
“The compulsory military service is 10 years in North Korea??” “Are there amusement parks in North Korea?” the Unification spokesperson answered questions and participated in discussion with the South Korea students.
Following on from the photo exhibition, the Spokesperson delivers an engaging presentation, where middle and high school students learn things that they didn’t know about North Korea. While re-thinking Unification through this presentation, the gap of understanding between North and South Korean students narrows.
The photos above were taken at the Unification Education programs at Seoul Foreign School on the 22nd October. With students from at least 25 different countries, aged between 12 – 14 yrs old, the NKSC were so encouraged to see the warm and active interest that the students showed in learning about North Korea.
3. Deepening understanding and knowledge
Finally, a time to ask all of the questions that students wanted to ask while listening to the presentation. As soon as the presentation is finished, students are given the opportunity to engage in a Q&A session. The students were so eager to ask questions, shouting ‘me! me!’ while trying to catch the gaze of the Spokesperson with their intense eye contact.
Q&A: What questions did the students ask?
Q: Are there ever times when you miss North Korea?
A: I came to South Korea alone. Because I’m here in South Korea living alone, the thing that I miss the most is my family and friends who are still in North Korea. Make sure that you are all kind to your friends and get along with them nicely!!
Q: In North Korea, apart from learning about the history of the Kim family, do you also learn about general history?
A: Yes, but we don’t learn ‘South Korean’ history as such, we learn ‘North Korean’ history, and a lot of the content is very distorted. For example, when we study the Korean War, we learn that the South actually started the conflict.
Q: What do North Koreans think about reunification?
A: They think positively about reunification because on a national level, (the government) inculcates the public with the sense that ‘we must reunify’. This is particularly because it is emphasised that we are ‘one people’. I was really surprised when I came to South Korea and saw that the young people of South Korea today consider North Korea to be a completely separate country/people. In North Korea, people from all age brackets think about reunification positively.
Q: Are public executions actually carried out in North Korea?
A: Yes, they are. However, because my parents never came to see one, I have also never witnessed a public execution. I have, however, heard the shots of the gunfire before. From what I’ve heard, people have been executed for reasons such as having come in and out of China for 10 years, and also having contact with South Korea.
Q: Can you practise your religion in North Korea?
A: In Pyongyang, there are churches and temples- but this is just for the purposes of showing the outside world. Only people who the government determines, may practise their faith. Kim Il-Sung had a Christian household, and his mother was even a deacon. In North Korea, only people who are determined to be allowed to practise faith, practise.
4. Unification starts with us!
After the program ends, the students take a picture with our NKSC Unification Spokesperson. Here are our ‘Unification Photos’ – Unification starts with us!