North Korea recalls overseas students for ‘political indoctrination’

The sessions are seen as part of a broader effort to tighten control over the younger generation.
By Taejun Kang for RFA
2024.07.04
Taipei, Taiwan
North Korea recalls overseas students for ‘political indoctrination’ North Korea’s youth and students wearing protective face masks hold an outdoor rally in Pyongyang, in protest over the leaflets sent by defectors in South Korea that condemned Kim Jong Un’s regime, in this photo taken June 6, 2020 and released by Kyodo on June 7, 2020.
Kyodo/Reuters

North Korea has issued a directive for students studying overseas to return home for “political indoctrination” sessions, said South Korea’s unification ministry.

The sessions, aimed at reinforcing allegiance to leader Kim Jong Un, will be held at the Pyongyang Grand People’s Study House later this month, the ministry said on Wednesday.  

“North Korea is gradually resuming the measures that were halted due to the COVID-19 lockdown,” said the ministry, adding that the order appeared to be aimed at involving the younger generation.

The indoctrination is seen as part of a broader effort to tighten control over young North Koreans as well as preventing defections among the young members of the elite, said the ministry.


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The ministry’s announcement came after media reports that the North has ordered the recall of students studying abroad, including those in China and Russia, following instructions from North Korean leader Kim. 

South Korean broadcaster SBS cited North Korean sources as saying that some of the students, mostly from the North’s elite families, are worried about the possibility of being forced to stay in their home country if they are caught dating, neglecting their studies or other behavior deemed unpatriotic. 

North Korea used to bring home students staying abroad during summer vacations to conduct political and ideological education, including indoctrination sessions before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, since North Korea sealed itself off from the outside world in 2020 in a bid to keep the virus out, the sessions have not been held, according to the unification ministry. 

Edited by Mike Firn.

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