How do you teach truth in a place where government creates truth? Can teaching critical thinking get North Korean students killed? These were the questions posed by award-winning author, journalist, and IVY Thought Leader, Suki Kim, who worked undercover in North Korea for an entire year. Suki led IVY members through an in-depth discussion that delved into the minds of the North Koreaâ€™s ruling elite, addressing troubling issues surrounding nuclear power, international conflict, and the effect of all-encompassing dictatorship.
Since its inception in 1945, The Democratic Peopleâ€™s Republic of Korea has remained a world apart. All aspects of life have been controlled by the descendants of Kim-Il Sung. In recent years, however, foreign education and aid initiatives, in part encouraged by the countryâ€™s leadership, have pierced this veil of secrecy. Suki was able to penetrate the North Korean psyche by means of a teaching position at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, the â€śMITâ€ť of the country. Her interactions with her students resulted in a strange disconnect: by becoming involved in their day-to-day lives, Suki explains, â€śyou would forget that they werenâ€™t just normal kids.â€ť One of her surprising discoveries was that by controlling all information going into the country, her studentâ€™s conception of time was off by decades, and their understanding of history almost nonexistent. Suki attributes this to a lack of diversity in official sources of information, advising all of us to hear as many differing opinions as possible so as not to fall into a mindset informed by one narrative. Learn more about Suki’s year undercover in her discussion below, and by reading her powerful memoir,Â Without You, There Is No Us: Undercover Among the Sons of North Korea’s Elite.