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6. Tagung der XII. Obersten Volksversammlung
„Daily NK“ zum Ablauf der Tagung

Today’s 6th session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly passed off without direct mention of economic changes. Instead, the event dealt with North Korea’s education system, extending compulsory schooling, and a number of personnel issues.
However, analysts instantly cautioned against taking the reformist image presented by the education reforms at face value.
Chosun Central News Agency announced the education news first, noting, “An ordinance of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly on enforcing universal 12-year compulsory education was promulgated.”
Under the ordnance, North Korean children are to take one year of kindergarten education followed by five years of elementary, three years of lower middle and three years of upper middle school, creating a 12-year system. This replaces the existing 11-year system, which features one year of kindergarten followed by four years of elementary and six years in a combined middle school.
All education from age five to seventeen is to be free, the report noted, while adding that “the work of converting the four-year primary schooling to five-year primary schooling shall go through the preparatory phase in the 2014-2015 school year and this shall be finished in 2-3 years.”
“Universal 12-year compulsory education is the most just and advantageous education system for drastically raising the quality of education to meet the requirements of education in the age of the knowledge-based economy and the trends of the world, and to bring up the younger generation to be Juche-type revolutionaries possessed of ample secondary general knowledge, modern basic technology and creative ability,” it also explained.
In a speech delivered to the meeting, SPA Vice-Chairman Choi Tae Bok reportedly explained that the intention of the changes is to “strengthen education in computer technology and foreign languages with a main emphasis on education in basic general knowledge in the field of the basic sciences, including mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology.”
However, giving his first-glance analysis of the changes, Korea Institute for National Unification senior researcher Park Hyung Jung noted with some cynicism, “If they were actually going to implement this properly, it could act as a reformist measure helping North Korea develop into a normal state through education.” In other words, the changes are unlikely to be implemented properly.
A former mid-level official in North Korea now living in Seoul was equally doubtful, saying, “The SPA has always been used to present measures for propaganda purposes, and these education reforms are the same; they can be seen in the context of building the image of North Korea as a normal country.”
“In reality the North Korean education system collapsed during the famine of the 1990s, and returning it to an even keel would be very difficult,” he added.
The SPA was also used to deal with a number of personnel changes. According to KCNA, “Hong In Bom, chief secretary of the South Pyongan Provincial Committee of the Chosun Workers’ Party, and Jon Yong Nam, the chairman of the Central Committee of the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League, were elected members of the SPA Standing Committee to fill vacancies.”
Also, “Choe Hui Jong was recalled from the post of chairman of the Budget Committee of the SPA and Kwak Beom Ki was elected chairman.”

Analyse auf „NK News“

Although KCNA reports didn’t refer directly to the reforms so many in the media had been expecting, does this mean that they weren’t discussed at all? NK News analyst Luke Herman explores this question after first looking at the items that were discussed:

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