Priorities: Top N. Korean in prison camp for allowing Covid to disrupt child communism classes

FPI / August 25, 2021


Major lapses in public education were tolerated by U.S. education systems in the face of the Covid-19 scare. Not so in North Korea

Choe Sang-Gon / Kim Il-Sung University

Within 48 hours of being dragged out of a meeting and arrested, the former head of the North Korea Workers’ Party’s science and education department was transported to a prison camp, reports say.

Choe Sang-Gon was publicly rebuked during a meeting of the Second Politburo of the Eighth Central Committee in late June. He was punished for failing the next generation of revolutionaries by allowing Covid to disrupt classes, the Daily NK reported on Aug. 20.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s official newspaper on Aug. 23 called for putting socialist ideology ahead of anything else, stressing that ideologically arming people should be the basis for moving science and technology and other areas forward.

Choe, the report said, was accused of failing to properly provide class hours as per educational doctrine due to Covid-19, and displayed an “easy-going” approach to promoting and graduating all students despite plummeting educational standards.

A source in North Korea told Daily NK that Choe was transported to a political prison camp in North Hamgyong Province. “Word is only now quietly emerging as it’s been over a month since this happened,” the source said.

According to the source, Choe fell afoul of the party for negligence in activities focused on child education, a focus of the Workers’ Party. There had been earlier speculation that he was punished for failing to carry out party decisions regarding Covid vaccine and treatment development, given his position as head of the party’s science and education department, which oversees the public health sector.

“With the coronavirus pandemic breaking out, educational doctrine – considered a ‘legal task’ in the country – became a mess,” said the source. “In this situation, the person responsible for the party’s educational policies was punished.”

Kim Hyong-Sik, the head of the party’s justice department, criticized Choe during the enlarged politburo meeting in June, saying that “implementing educational doctrine is the standard for determining whether you’re moving the revolution forward and making a retreat.”

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