10 Major Differences Between Childhood in North Korea and Other Countries

Everyday life in North Korea is not something we often see. Sometimes the curtain lifts, and we get a chance to see how the adults live their lives. However, we know very little about the younger citizens. Is there anything about their lives that is different from the lives of our children?

We at WeGoRo have found the answer to this question, and we want to tell you 10 facts about the way kids spend their childhood in the most closed country in the world.

  • ​​​The first thing a newborn baby gets is a social status or “songbun.” In this way, the government considers the baby “loyal,” “swing state,” or “hostile.” Songbun is inherited from the father, and it determines which school the child will attend, which university they will enter, and if they will be able to become a member of the Workers’ Party.

  • Education starts in kindergarten. From the age of 4, children attend kindergarten only if their parents want them to. But when they are 5, they are obliged to attend by the government. Every kid who wants to go to school has to go to kindergarten for at least one year.

  • ​​​​Some of the children who live in orphanages actually have parents. This happens because many young couples can’t provide for their children. Orphans who are adopted can be returned to the orphanage for the same reason.
  • In schools, students learn the Russian language and the biographies of the country’s leaders. Some classes are even dedicated to the popularization of the revolutionary programs of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un. Together with the Russian language, they learn English, but they know it at a very low level because they don’t use foreign books. At the age of 10, all school students enter the Korean Children’s Union and start visiting political meetings.

  • Lessons and other events are full of ideological propaganda. There are political posters in school hallways and patriotic texts in the books. At parties, kids take part in political plays. During big holidays, children create military parades, and they wear military uniform and march along with cardboard cars and rocket launchers.
  • Kids visit public executions. Unfortunately, such a traumatizing experience is considered normal for young North Korean citizens. More than that, sometimes kids even make denunciations.
  • Hard work is normal. Kids harvest grain, chop trees, mine, and even work on construction sites. Just like adults, children have a labor quota, and they can be fined if they don’t do enough work.

  • Military toys. Of course, dolls and bunnies are sold in stores too, but there are also many toy tanks, helicopters, and guns. It is thought that such toys help build the patriotic spirit in the young generation.

  • Kids spend their free time in hobby clubs. For example, in downtown Pyongyang, there is the Schoolchildren Palace where kids can learn about computers, music, and art. They can also do any kind of sport and many other things. There are such clubs in smaller districts too, but they are normally part of a school. Beautiful children’s concerts are usually the result.

  • There is more entertainment for children that it seems. If the parents have enough money, they can take their kids to the movie theater to watch a 3D movie, to the zoo, to the Oceanarium, or to the amusement park. If money is a problem, kids can watch cartoons on TV, but only Korean ones. There are many festivals that bring kids joy with music and many sweets.

Well, childhood in North Korea is just childhood after all. True, it’s not as carefree as the life we are used to, but it’s still fun.

Which facts were the most surprising? Tell us in the comment section below!