Quote Originally Posted by Tangmo View Post
Suki Kim who was born and raised in Seoul and is fluent in English volunteered to teach English in Pyongyang at a school run by SK evangelical Christians. This is excerpted from her published memoir of the experience. Ms. Kim who lives in NYC wrote the novel, The Interpreter, although it's not the same story as the movie of the identical title.

This excerpt is from her account of assigning essays and topics in her English class to the 19 year old freshman sons of the NK elite at an all boys university of technology. I taught English in South Korea at an established middle school and at a completely new electronics high school that are government (public) schools under the Ministry of Education that hired a bunch of us from USA and Canada. The SK students we taught number one concern in their life was the threat of another North Korean invasion. Ms. Kim says in her memoir -- not presented in the excerpt below -- her impression was that the NK elite students seemed to be looking forward to one.


What I learned from teaching English in North Korea

Mar 18, 2015 / Suki Kim

Born and raised in Seoul, Suki Kim posed as an English teacher at an all-male university in Pyongyang run by evangelical Christians; she spent six months teaching the 19-year-old sons of North Korea’s ruling class. In this excerpt from her investigative memoir, she describes the experience.
Here I am, teaching a class at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST).

The PUST campus: the enclosed walkway connects all the buildings. The classroom building is on the left; a Pyongyang smokestack can be seen in the distance.

I also gave them four recent articles — from the Princeton Review, the New York Times, the Financial Times, and Harvard Magazine — that mentioned Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook and Twitter. None of the pieces evoked a response. Not even the sentence about Zuckerberg earning $100 billion from something he dreamed up in his college dorm seemed to interest them. It was possible that they viewed the reading as lies. Or perhaps the capitalist angle repelled them.

The next day, several students stopped by during office hours. They all wanted to change their essay topics. Curiously, the new topics they proposed all had to do with the ills of American society. One said he wanted to write about corporal punishment in American and Japanese middle schools. Another handed me a revised thesis: “Despite the harmful effect of nuclear weapons, some countries such as the United States keep developing nuclear weapons.” A third student wanted to write about the evils of allowing people to own guns so freely, in America.

A fourth student asked me which country produced the most computer hackers; he had been taught that it was America. A fifth wanted to change his topic to divorce. There was no divorce in the DPRK, but in America the rate was more than 50 percent, and divorce led to crime and mental illness, according to him. “So what happens when people are unhappy here after being married for a while?” I asked. The student looked at me blankly. Still another student wanted to write about how McDonald’s was horrible. The same student then asked me, “So what kind of food does McDonald’s make?”

To correct my students on each bit of misinformation was taxing and sometimes meant straying into dangerous territory. Another teacher said, “No way. Don’t touch that. If their book said it was true, you can’t tell them that it’s a lie.”


What I learned from teaching English in North Korea |

Tangmo Note: A prominent lie is that in NK and in China the schools continue to teach that in 1950 SK and USA invaded the peaceful and peace loving republic of North Korea to begin the Korean War. And that the Chinese finally stepped in to stop us cold.

PUST students on a snowy day after an exam; Kim Jong-il’s death would be announced just a few days later.
Have you a book to suggest?