Hierarchy shift

As the North Korean defector Park Young-mi has stated, in North Korea everything is determined by Songbun, or “born”.

A word I heard over and over again at Hana-in was impressive. “In a democratic society, hard work pays off.” I didn’t believe at first. Not in North Korea.
Effort will only be paid to those who are good at Songbun and have good connections. (Park Yong-mi, “The Choice to Live”)

However, it is not impossible to elevate your status, as journalist Andrei Rankov said in an example.

You can improve your status. For example, a young man, who was unfortunately a grandson of a Protestant minister, may regain his honor through exemplary military service. (Andrey Lankov, North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea)

On the other hand, it is almost impossible to move up the ranks, said defector Lee Hyun-so.

People in the upset class can become junior bureaucrats and teachers. Once in the army, you cannot climb to the center of the army. The difficulty with this system is that it is easy to go down, but almost impossible to go up. It is impossible to marry a person with the above recollections. Only ten to fifteen percent of the population are in the ruling class, and they are always nervous so they can’t make mistakes and lower their ranks. (Lee Hyun-soo, “A Girl with Seven Names”)

The following is an example of a person who was in the upper class, who had fallen to the lower class because of something.

If your parents are “Hakutoyama Churgi (street)” or “Nakdonggang Churgi”, you can go to a good university even if your academic ability is a little lower.
“Bakutoyama-suji” refers to the descendants of those whose grandfather or father had previously served in the “anti-Japanese unit” led by Kim Il-sung. At that time, he descended from the People’s Officer who died in the battle on the southern Nakdong River.
These people make up the upper class of Songbun.
Conversely, Vietnamese families (who had relatives who fled to South Korea), families of Korean prisoners of war, Vietnamese families (who fled from Korea to North Korea), Japanese colonial landowners, capitalists, Family members who are in the “dictatorship camp” by criticizing or criticizing Kim’s father’s policies and routes and family members who live overseas in North Korea (same as return to Japan from Japan) are Songbun bad. The lower class.
Therefore, a student with such parents gives up on college. During my university years, there was a student named Kim Akira.
In a war orphan, his father died in a fierce battle in the Nakdong River and his mother died in a bombing, a student from Nakdong River with good Songbun and guaranteed future career.
However, during the process of resident registration and re-registration, it was revealed that he was not a member of the People’s Army but a member of the “security corps” who cooperated with the Korean military. As a result, he was dropped out of school and relocated to a mine near Nampo, becoming a coal miner.
(Koei Hwan, Living in Seoul, Living in Pyongyang)