Life as a Philosophy Student in North Korea


A philosophy student who defected from North Korea provides some information about life as a philosophy student there in a recent interview (part of a series of interviews with David A. Caprara, a journalist working with the Global Peace Foundation in Seoul, South Korea). The student now lives in Seoul.

The access to philosophy books in North Korea is quite limited, the student says:

In North Korea we have philosophy books, but they only focus on the biographies of the philosophers, and not actually what sorts of things they thought. They don’t contain anything that makes one question life or the societal system that they are living under. They do not make one think or doubt. Anything bordering on the realm of real philosophy only deals with the ideals of the party and the Kim leaders.

The daily life of a student is different, too:

In Seoul, after classes most students have free time that they can spend either studying on their own or in taking up a part-time job. In North Korea, however, students have to help their professor harvest crops at a farm owned and run by the university. This takes up a lot of time.

As for the prospects of change in North Korea, the student says:

Rather than focusing on changing the lower class, the elites need to be changed. The lower class does not have time to think about revolution; they are just trying to survive. The people who need to be targeted are elite leaders, university students, and professors. Slowly, we need to change the way that they think about North Korea.

The rest of the interview is here.

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