War prep part of N. Korean pupils' studies
PYONGYANG — North Korea's newest batch of future soldiers — scrawny 11-year-olds with freshly shaved heads — punch the air as they practice taekwondo at school.
Students and teachers in the capital say they're studying harder these days to prepare for battle.
Across the country, banners, slogans and artwork have been redrawn to focus on fighting “the imperialist Americans and their traitorous followers” — a reference to South Korea.
Slogans on improving North Korea's economy has dominated since 2009, but anti-American propaganda has re-emerged during the past year after U.S.-led censure of North Korea's decision to launch a long-range rocket and test a nuclear bomb.
At the military school, where students work on desktop computers without Internet access and practice their English with chants such as “The respected Marshal Kim Jong Un is our father,” classwork is infused with conflict.
“Because of the present situation, I am trying to study harder, because I really think that's how I can get my revenge on the American imperialists — by getting top marks in class,” student Jo Chung Hyok told The Associated Press.
“It's my revolutionary duty,” Jo said. “I'm working extra hard to get top marks in military subjects like tactics and shooting.”
“At the moment, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is tense, and America is being bad to us,” said Lt. Col. Kim Hak Bin, an administrator at the military academy. “But you can see that the students here look just as bright as usual, and life and classes are carrying on the same as before.
“Our students are ready to go to the front lines whenever a war breaks out, and they are now studying harder than usual,” he said Thursday.
Students at Mangyondae are made aware of their government's latest invectives against its foes, in addition to usual subjects of study — biology, history and foreign languages.