In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, schools can be found in all places where there are school-aged children, be they in remote mountainous villages or small islands. The country ensures that schools are built even on both sides of the river or the pass for the sake of children crossing it.
This reality is unthinkable apart from the warm care of President Kim Il Sung who put forward children as the “king” of the country and spared nothing for the rising generations.
Right after Korea’s liberation on August 15, 1945, an official in a meeting of educators asked Kim Il Sung if it was necessary to build a school in an area with only 10 to 20 children, including fire-field tillers’ or forestry workers’ villages.
At that time, he answered: In the past, students would go to school for learning. But today we should establish a principle of finding areas with pupils and setting up schools for them, without regard to their numbers.
During his inspection to Yangdok County in South Phyongan Province in September 1947, he took a measure to build a branch school for children in a mountainous area attending a far-flung school.
One January day in 1964 during his field guidance trip, he stopped his car by a roadside within a hailing distance of a village.
He called children riding sleighs on a frozen brook near the village to have a talk with them. They took off their caps to make a bow to him. Adjusting their dresses, he asked them which school they attended. After listening to a boy’s answer that they were attending Songsan Middle School, he asked him about its location again.
An official told him that it was located in a deep valley of the Jongbang Mountain Range and explained the long course to the school of passing a rough valley, a high pass and a village.
Kim Il Sung turned his eyes to the road towards the high pass for a good while and said to himself that the school was so far that the children would feel tired to attend it.
After listening to them about the situation of the area, he said to officials that if they had established a branch school there long ago, the children would not have got into troubles, and asked them to build it urgently.
An official told him that there were about 10 students in the village.
Shaking his head, Kim Il Sung stated: We cannot deal with the problem related to the future of the country according to the number of children. It is for the future of children that we work even in cold winter without having a rest. Even if there is only one or two children in the village, we must build a branch school at any cost.
After his inspection, the project to build a branch school was promoted and education facilities and materials sent by him arrived in the village. As a result, a cozy branch school for some children in the mountainous village was built on a sunny hillside.
At present, the DPRK has well over a thousand branch schools and, among them, there is a branch for one or two pupils.