This study examines the process by which North Korean children are nurtured. It does so by reviewing the generational nurture policy, in the context of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990's and the economic crisis experienced by North Korea which, in tandem, substantially affected the use and management of childcare centers and kindergartens, not to mention the collective psychology of the North Korean people themselves. Based on the results of this research, a number of policy implications are suggested with the aim of towards strengthening the commonalities and narrowing the gap of differences on child nurturing between the two Koreas.
Among North Korean defectors with childbirth and nurture experiences, 199 participated in the survey and 30 participated in the interviews. The main findings are as follows. More participants answered ‘never attended a child care center’ but more answered ‘attended kindergarten’ in their parents' generation (before the 1990's). Among the participants with parents in their 40's, 83.3% answered that they had ‘attended kindergarten,’ indicating North Korea's early childhood education had undergone development in the 1960's to the 1970's. However, for participants' with parents under 30 (after the 1990s), more answered that their children have ‘never attended’ a child care center (67.7%) or kindergarten (71.0%), showing a rapid change. Child deaths, the burden of expenses associated with children, and institutes simply not being in operation were the main reasons given for not attending childcare centers or kindergartens. This reflects the severe financial difficulties and shortages of food in North Korea during the 1990's. Originally, childcare center and kindergarten fees, meals and snacks were provided free of charge. However, after the 1990's, the financial burdens became heavier and some students began receiving private tutoring. There were abnormal cases of monthly private tutoring expenses exceeding average monthly salaries (e. g a monthly salary of 2,000 won and private accordion lessons of 100,000 won); this is indicative of a fracture in North Korea's socialistic system. North Korean citizens considered marriage and birth as part of the natural course of life and displayed generally accepting attitudes to the idea of child nurture, rather than rejecting the idea for economic reasons. Most had relatively conservative beliefs on the subject of nurturing such as 'I can even sacrifice my own life for my child.' Unlike the case of South Korea, childbirth and vaccinations are free of charge, most mothers breast-feed their infants, and there are hardly forms of ‘junk food’ snacks such as cookies or candy. The interviews indicated that the subjects have almost never come across computers, foreign cartoons, toys or children's books let alone any internet games.
South and North Korea have many point of divergence in terms of child nurture, but they have the commonalities of sharing the same language and traditional culture. South and North Korea should endeavor to narrow the gap between these differences and find and cultivate points of commonality. In order to do so, the researchers suggest developing collaboration between South and North Korea in educational programs (e.g. children's songs, gymnastics, children's books), or designating a special day for children or directors of kindergartens and childcare centers to host visits and exchanges. After the 1990's the education gap between South and North Korea widened significantly, resulting in extreme cases of North Korean children living in destitution and South Korean children living in abundance. Promoting a 'North Korean Children Support Project' is one suggestion by which Korea can comply with the universal standard of the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Table Of Contents
Ⅱ. 북한 양육에 관한 이해
Ⅲ. 북한의 자녀양육관
Ⅳ. 북한의 탁아소∙유치원 이용 및 운영 실태
Ⅴ. 북한의 가정내 양육 실태
Ⅵ. 통일대비 남북한 양육정책에 관한 시사점