Pyongyang citizens affectionately call Kyongsang Kindergarten on Changjon Street a “cradle of musical prodigies.”
The kindergarten was inaugurated in April 1954 as an educational institution for the children of pre-school age in the Kyongsang-dong area and has a comparatively long history in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In late 1970s it became engaged in the early art education of the children in Pyongyang according to the state measures.
Kyongsang Kindergarten is provided with excellent conditions for early musical education as well as general education for children. It has scores of rooms for teaching Korean alphabet, counting and various musical instruments. Many of its teachers are graduates from art universities.The teachers, whose merits are the abilities to discover the potential aptitudes of children from their playing and mischief, which even their parents fail to do, attach top priority to selecting from nursery children in Pyongyang those with musical aptitudes. They unanimously say that a priority should be paid to the inborn nature in nurturing prodigies.
The selected children who pass expert examination may choose to learn one among six musical instruments, including piano, cello, violin and guitar, according to their likings and parental desires.
Since then each child is tutored by four teachers—in general education, a specific musical instrument, rhythmic movements, and sound detection and sight reading respectively.
The teachers are always among the children to observe their dispositions, psychology, aptitudes and the level of intellectual development, and create most reasonable teaching methods and manufacture a lot of teaching aids.
Thanks to their efforts, Sinbigyong, an education support application for intellectual development of the preschoolers, was developed and introduced to the kindergartens across the country.
In 2018 they developed Chinhandongmu (close friend), an e-textbook for kindergarteners, which is agreeable to the developing trend of modern education, pedagogical requirements and mentality of children.
Under the instruction of the teachers with rich teaching experience and profound knowledge children are brought up into little musicians in the two-year kindergarten period.
The head of a music school in Stockholm, Sweden, was greatly impressed by the kindergarten, describing the visit to it as an exciting moment and praising it as a world-class music kindergarten.
In the past decades Kyongsang Kindergarten produced a lot of musical prodigies, including Ma Sin A, Choe Jang Hung, Yu Pyol Mi, Han Su Ryo, Hong Su Ryon and Jo Mi Rae, who won special and top prizes at international piano contests.
Young prodigies from the kindergarten staged an oungum (a Korean musical instrument) trio at the 15th Moscow Meets Friends International Festival held in Russia in October 2018, winning applause of the audience. An oungum quartet performed by the kindergarten children caused another great sensation at the 16th Moscow festival the following year.
Kim Ji Won, when he won a prize at the Third Vladimir Krainev Moscow International Piano Competition held in Russia in March 2019, was studying at Pyongyang Music School No. 1 of Pyongyang Kim Won Gyun University of Music after having graduated from the Kyongsang Kindergarten.