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N. Korean government demands students collect scrap paper for new textbooks

North Korea’s government has ordered students to collect scrap paper for use in printing new textbooks for a new curriculum that will soon be adopted by high schools, Daily NK has learned.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Apr. 26 that the North Korean government issued instructions in mid-April about revising the curriculum to allow high school students to choose which courses they want to take in the areas of social studies and science.

While the new curriculum is currently being implemented on a trial basis at a limited number of schools in each region, the authorities have said they plan to roll it out around the country and are stressing the need to publish new textbooks.

As a result, people’s committees at provinces, cities, and counties around the country have been given submission quotas for high-quality and low-quality scrap paper.

High-quality scrap paper refers to white printer paper and intact newspapers and books, while low-quality scrap paper refers to tissue paper and other flimsy kinds of paper. The authorities want both kinds of paper submitted so they can accelerate printing of textbooks for the new curriculum.

In Pungso County, Yanggang Province, urgent assignments to submit scrap paper have been given not only to elementary schools, middle schools and high schools but also inminban (neighborhood watch units).

Not an easy task to accomplish

But people are outraged about the sudden order to hand over scrap paper. The main reason is that high-quality scrap paper is difficult to find.

“The textbooks the government has developed for key courses are printed in the province on very cheap paper that generally counts as low-quality scrap. People aren’t sure how to submit high-quality scrap paper when there’s little to be found,” the source said.

Currently, each student in Pungso County is supposed to submit five kilograms of high-quality scrap paper, which many people complain is an unreasonable amount.

According to the source, the parents who are left with the task of handling their children’s scrap paper quotas are criticizing the government’s demands.

“Considering how hard it is to scrape together just one kilogram of high-quality scrap paper, it seems impossible to come up with five kilograms,” one parent said.

“They ought to give us realistic quotas, but they just keep trying to squeeze us dry,” another remarked.

Under these circumstances, the source said, some families are meeting their high-quality scrap quota by tearing out pages from books by and about the North Korean leadership, despite the political risk of damaging books that are supposed to be lovingly maintained in North Korea.

Thanks to the sudden demand for scrap paper, vendors who sell scrap in the markets or on the streets are doing brisk business.

“Quick-thinking vendors in Pungso County are putting up signs for high-quality scrap paper in the streets and markets and then buying the paper on the cheap and selling it for a premium. The new textbook project is causing various kinds of trouble for the North Korean public,” the source said.

Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler. 

Daily NK works with a network of sources living in North Korea, China, and elsewhere. Their identities remain anonymous for security reasons. For more information about Daily NK’s network of reporting partners and information-gathering activities, please visit our FAQ page here.

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Read in Korean

May 03, 2024 at 01:30PM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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