A couple seemingly just wed
Korean shop assistant at a humble grocery store
within a residential area
A North Korean customer service representative
at a grand hotel
Korean police woman directs the traffic.
Police officer and shop assistant are reportedly two
of the most respected professions for women in North
Koreans just finished their work and head for home.
A lady holds a teddy bear puppy-like toy in her arm
- it might be her newly purchased present for her young
Two female office workers cross the road (not on pedestrian
crossing though), one in conventional Western-style suit
and the other in a fashionable neo-traditional Korean
A group of school kids congregate in a playground
The following is the English translation of
an interview with Chen Mo (陈默), a Chinese college student
at Beijing Second Foreign Language University with major
in Korean language who participated in a student exchange
program and studied in North Korea for a school year. The
interview was conducted by The China Youth Daily :
China Youth: Tell us something
about your life in North
Chen Mo: It was not bad, not
at all. Previously I heard news from the Western
media saying the North
Korea is in constant famine,
so many of my friends were worried that I might experience starvation.
But the reality is quite different. The food in college is
sufficient and well prepared, and for free. From time to
time we exchange students would hold parties at nearby restaurants.
During my time studying there, I lived in a
foreign student accommodation outside the college; about
one or two people shared a room and seven or eight shared
a flat. Each flat had a local student to help us with language
practice, and the Korean student in our flat is Mr Bai.
China Youth: Then tell us
something about Mr Bai.
Chen Mo: Bai was 31-year old,
came from a city in the north and studied philosophy in the
college. Since all North Korean males need to spend 10 years
in military service, when they go to college they are often
in their late twenties. He’s not yet married; and when once
probed by me about his ideal bride, he replied: A woman who
treats her parents well and treats
my parents well, and is loyal to our country.
I remembered when he first met me, he remarked,
“You look like a shop assistant.” His words made me rather
baffled at the time. Later I learned that in North Korea
shop assistant is a highly regarded occupation for women,
eighty percent of them received tertiary education and all
of them are rather pretty. And being a shop assistant is
many college girls aspiration.
But the most respected job for women is traffic
police. The traffic police offers in Pyongyang are all females,
who are tall and beautiful and gracious, more like airline
hostesses than cops.
China Youth: Then what is
Mr Bai’s aspiration for his job?
Chen Mo: He once said he would
like to work at a library or a memorial hall. I think these
might be the most respected jobs for North Korea males.
North Korea doesn't have many libraries and
the libraries don’t have many books,
so the students need to copy the lectures by hand. I noticed
that almost everyone on the road or in the underground train
would hold a pocket memo pads reading the notes whenever
they got the time.
China Youth: How about your
Chen Mo: Oh, I would have
to say they are the true professional educators. I remember
one professor who taught us Korean language history. He was
so devoted and patient, and every time after his lecture
the blackboard would be fully covered by his notes. You may
not know, the university professors in North Korea receive
as much pay as the gate keepers guarding the colleges, but
which doesn’t seem to affect the quality of and their passion
for the teaching and research work. We Chinese students often
said to each other, “If
only these excellent teachers can keep teaching us in China!”
China Youth: How the young
people in North Korea view China?
Chen Mo: Very friendly, very.
You can tell from their enthusiasm in learning Chinese language.
I once sat in audience viewing a Chinese language contest,
and a fellow Chinese student next to me could not help but
kept rumbling: "How on earth they speak Madeline better
than me!” He was not exaggerating. Their pronunciation is
so perfect just like from Chinese radio broadcasters.
But on the whole, the young North Koreans don’t
know Chinese well. However, they all think China is their
best friend and will always be.
China Youth: Due to the nature
of your chosen profession, you will work with North Koreans
quite often in future. How will you deal with them?
Chen Mo: The Chinese tradition
speaks of dealing with somebody as he deals with you. Since
North Korean people treat us with respect and kindness, naturally,
we should repay them with the same degree of respect and
appreciation. Besides, they are a people with dignity who
are straightforward, honest, love their own country and refuse
to bow to external pressure, I feel privileged to have an
opportunity to work with them.
A group of North Korea high school girls with their teacher
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Korea Today (2) - Rural
on White Tiger Regiment