North Korea Recalls Students For Intense Political Indoctrination

North Korea has mandated that all its overseas students return home for a rigorous session of political indoctrination, as reported by South Korea’s Unification Ministry on Thursday. These sessions, to be held at the Grand People’s Study House in Pyongyang, aim to reinforce loyalty to leader Kim Jong-un, according to Radio Free Asia.

The Grand People’s Study House, a massive library dedicated in 1982 to honor Kim Il-sung’s seventieth birthday, is set to host these indoctrination sessions. The library, with over one million square feet of space and more than six hundred rooms, will accommodate a large number of returnees. The facility also holds a limited collection of foreign books, which North Korean citizens must obtain special permission to access.

Estimates suggest that about 1,100 North Korean students are currently studying abroad, primarily in China and Russia. This recall for indoctrination marks the resumption of a practice halted during the Covid-19 pandemic. The last such session occurred in 2019, before North Korea sealed its borders completely.

South Korean sources report that some overseas students fear repercussions if they are found guilty of behaviors deemed unpatriotic, such as dating or neglecting their studies.

This move is seen as a tactic by Kim Jong-un to tighten his grip on the younger generation, particularly those in their 20s and 30s, to prevent ideological deviations and potential defections among young elites.

The number of defections from North Korea tripled in 2023 as the regime began reopening its borders. Many defectors, including young people and higher-ranking political elites, cited deteriorating living conditions and increased discontent with the Kim regime as reasons for their escape.

South Korean officials are closely monitoring this situation, curious to see if the recall might prompt some students to attempt a long-delayed escape. The indoctrination likely includes a renewed focus on anti-South Korean sentiment, especially targeting South Korea’s president, Yoon Suk-yeol.

North Korea’s Socialist Patriotic Youth League has been actively distributing anti-Yoon materials, urging young people to call for his impeachment. These materials describe Yoon as a warmonger and fascist dictator and are used in classrooms to propagate anti-Yoon sentiments.

As the indoctrination sessions begin, the international community watches closely, aware that the recall could lead to increased attempts at defection and further unrest among North Korea’s young elites.

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