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N. Korean university student threatened with expulsion for not meeting school quotas

A North Korean university student in South Pyongan Province complained to his professor and university officials after he was threatened with expulsion for failing to meet school quotas, Daily NK has learned.

“A student at Pyongsong Medical University was put on the expulsion list last month after he failed to complete the tasks assigned by the university due to his financial difficulties,” a source in the province told Daily NK on Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

According to the source, the student in question, surnamed Kim, was recommended to study at the university around the time he completed his mandatory military service. He was admitted to Pyongsong Medical University in 2022 and lived in a dormitory, surviving on money sent by his parents, who work on a farm.

But last year, his parents’ support was cut off due to their severe financial difficulties, and Kim was unable to fulfill the various “social duties” (including scrap metal quotas) assigned by his university for several months. In the end, he had to find work to make up the quotas, resulting in frequent absences from class.

As the North Korean authorities have undertaken more construction projects in recent years, schools have continued to issue more quotas to students, and a significant number of students have been unable to meet the quotas due to economic hardship. However, the failure of these students to meet their quotas has left their cohort behind, and the professors in charge of the cohort are being shamed and harassed in university meetings.

These professors have taken to personally urging delinquent students to catch up on their overdue quotas, with cash if necessary, and advising them to take a break from school and come back when their circumstances improve, the source explained.

“When students who are behind on their quotas attend classes, they are pressured to meet their quotas and get the cold shoulder from other students. In effect, they cannot succeed in school no matter how hard they try. Eventually, these students look for work, but as their absences from class increase, they’re eventually placed on the expulsion list,” the source said.

Instead of taking a leave of absence, Kim tried to continue his studies while earning money on the side to make up his quota, but by March, he too was on the expulsion list.

Kim visited the professor in charge of his class in late March to complain about his situation. “Should you leave the university if you have no money? Does the university have a policy of expelling students who can’t pay?” Kim said.

Kim also voiced his complaints in a meeting with school officials.

“If I’m going to raise the money the university wants me to pay, I have no choice but to skip class. I’m trying to earn money to pay the school and keep up with my studies at the same time. So why should my name be on the expulsion list? I’d understand if I played truant and chose not to pay if I had the money. Is there really no way to study if you don’t have the money?” he said.

But in the end, Kim was expelled from the university. There were more than ten students at Pyongsong Medical University who were expelled this semester for the same reason as Kim, the source said. They all had a reputation for failing to meet their school quotas.

“University students have always been assigned many social duties, and this is still the case today. It’s not easy to attend university if your family is not well off. University has ultimately become a place for the wealthy, and the fact is that people who struggle financially often drop out or get expelled,” 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

April 15, 2024 at 08:07AM

by DailyNK(North Korean Media)

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