education in northkorea

Education in DPRK

Education is free in North Korea included in school uniform as well as students’ stationaries. The whole country provide 11 years free education since 1975. One year of pre-school, four years of primary school, and six years of secondary school (junior high + senior high school). In 2014, the Education Ministry of the DPRK cabinet proposed new reforms to extend primary school to five years, increasing the number of years of compulsory education to 12 years. (primary school uniform is totally free. 80% of Middle school uniform fee is paid by the country.)The students also could choose art classes according to their own interests which is free too. When a North Korean child reaches the age of three or four, During the daytime, the children will be placed in a nursery in the community where their parents work or live. The children will grow up in the nursery until they are six years old, and then they will be sent to the corresponding kindergarten. Just as in China, kindergartens are divided into small and large classes, north Korean kindergartens are divided into higher and lower grades according to the year of entry. From the upper grades of kindergarten, school-age children will be formally enrolled in the regular curriculum at the age of seven, then 12 years of compulsory education will begin at this time. Both nurseries and pre-nursery schools are treated as employee benefits for the parent’s unit, charging only a nominal overhead and It is said that this fee could be reimbursed in some company that the parents work for.


North Korea briefly set up some “key primary schools” before, but later canceled them for violating the principle of equal teachers for citizens. Therefore, in the primary school selection stage, parents only need to choose the school which is closest to home. North Korea also has plenty of primary schools, with hundreds of “micro” schools with 10 to 20 students running across the country to care for children in remote areas.

Students in primary school study math, Korean language, and art, children in this period also learn the childhood stories of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Students in primary school only have class in the whole morning. Students study art in different students’ palaces in the afternoon. Every parent would like their children to study music like singing and dancing at least. Students could choose the art they like to study in the student’s palace like drawing, embroidery, calligraphy, some sports etc. which is also free. The artistic atmosphere in North Korea is very strong. The Korean people are very good at singing and dancing. After 4 years primary school then the students will be arranged to go to junior high school. When they graduate from junior high school, some children go to key high schools or special colleges. North Korean high schools open Korean, math, English, physics, chemistry, and some other quite unique subjects.


In terms of history education, North Korean children do not study ancient history until high school. Instead, they study the history of the Revolution of Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Sook (Kim Il Sung’s wife). Like South Korea, High schools in North Korea also teach Chinese characters, but the north has completely abolished Chinese characters in daily life and media. The most popular class for boys is called “military politics”, a reflection of North Korea’s military-first politics. In this class, students can learn the military map, shooting and other skills, but also will field simulation of mountain warfare, hit the real CS.

After graduating from high school, students will take the national college entrance exam. There are more than 200 universities in North Korea, the largest 1 of them is Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang. About 50 % of high school students are admitted to universities each year. During college, students are given financial aid by the country, and after graduation, the country arranges jobs for them. Students who fail to go to college can join the army or work.

In North Korea there are rarely fine anyone illiterate. Education in North Korea is well. During your traveling in North Korea you could feel most of people are very polite. You even do not worry about anyone rob you or steal anyting from you. You could feel very safe to walk on the street during the night time and day time.