School life and poverty

North Korea is a poor country. Schools donate money from homes to secure supplies.

Parents must constantly donate to school. This is where donations are allocated, and the school will use the donations to sell and fund the facilities.
Rabbit fur becomes the gloves and caps of our soldiers who keep us safe. Scrap iron turns into a gun, and copper turns into a bullet. Mushrooms and fruits can be used to export and earn foreign currency. In the absence of a parental donation, teachers could blame the child in front of the whole class. (Lee Hyun-so, “A Girl with Seven Names”)

If the financial burden on the family increases, it will be difficult for children to go to school.

My sister and I had to quit school. In North Korea, education is free, but students must pay for uniforms and school supplies, and they are also required to bring food and other items to teachers. (Park Yong-mi, “The Choice to Live”)

The following is a note about North Korea. The Guard is a secret police officer who describes his experience in a political prison camp.

The paper is black because it has not been bleached, the surface of the paper is uneven, and there are holes in some places. Because the raw material of paper is not well melted, the lump of fiber remains as it is, and when I try to write letters, the place where I got stuck quickly breaks and gets irritated. Even in the security department, students and ordinary people will not get decent paper if they are using something like horse dung paper.
The children struggled to secure notes to study. Junior high school students couldn’t get a new notebook and had to write in ink on a pencil-worn old school notebook. (Aya Han Won, North Korean defector)

It is also difficult to secure notes in North Korea, and there are tearful efforts to use a single book many times.

When using a new notebook, first use a fountain pen. The ink of the fountain pen melts later when it is soaked in water, so you can erase the characters you wrote once. In North Korea, every house has an ondol,
After draining the ink, drain the notebook, spread it out, spread it out, and sleep under the futon overnight. This way, when you wake up the next morning, it’s dry and can be used again as a white notebook.
The second time I write with a pencil. I don’t write with a pencil from the beginning because North Korea has no eraser. For the third time, write with a ballpoint pen from above on the pencil-written characters. The fourth time, characters that are even darker than ballpoint pens
I use ink, a writing instrument that I can write. If you continue to use it many times, you will not only be unable to read it well, but the third time the paper will be ragged, and the ballpoint pen’s mess will be caught by the paper
Holes are torn or torn. (Lu Jinzhu, “North Korea Seen by a Girl”)

Not only students are poor.

Some school teachers were begging.
The second son, Kinaga, was like that. His father died, he had brothers, but had already left the house and lived with his sick mother.
The stoppage of food distribution and the late payment of salary overlapped the hardships of the past, creating extreme poverty. It’s hard to reach the school on foot because I can’t get enough at the dining table. His face is always earthy and just bones and skin.
Just like starvation. I can’t eat, so I don’t have to change clothes.
He wore the same clothes all year and looked like a tramp. Eventually, the clothes are also ragged and have large rips.
Still nothing to change. There he was called a “beggar teacher.”
The school, who couldn’t see it, exempted him from work saying, “You can’t attend classes, so stay at home.”
The same is true for students, and as the food situation worsens, one more person, two more people, and finally lessons can be taken. Malnutrition makes it difficult to attend school or secure food while being a child
I had to work hard. (Shinichi Nebe, North Korean Asylum 730 Day Document)