4-year compulsory compulsory school was introduced in
1956 and 6-year compulsory upper secondary school in 1958.
The children start school at the age of 6. The schooling has
been free for everyone since 1975. The education system is
based on Kim Il Sung's theses from 1977 on socialist
education. English is compulsory from the children is 14
years. Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang was founded in
1946. See TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA for TOEFL, ACT, SAT testing locations and high school codes in North Korea.
1991 Crisis after the collapse of the Soviet Union
In 1991, the Soviet Union halved the oil supplies to the
country, which began to show some financial difficulties.
From 1992 Kim Jong Il took over the drafting of the
country's foreign policy. In the middle of the year, the
government submitted a report to the IAEA on the nuclear
installations in the country - including the Yongbion plant.
Nevertheless, in February 1993, North Korea refused the
agency access to inspect this facility, triggering a major
crisis. South Korea expressed fears that the North Koreans
were in possession of nuclear weapons and negotiations
between the two countries broke down.
North Korea is internationally isolated, dependent on oil
exports and financially linked to Japan. The country's
economy also depends on the shipping route between the
Japanese port city of Niigata and the North Korean Wonsan.
There is only a weekly connection, but the ship carries
goods and money from 200,000 of the 700,000 North Koreans
living in Japan.
Kim Il Sung died at the age of 82 on July 7, 1994. The
death complicated the dialogue with the United States and
led to the postponement of a planned summit between the two
Koreas. Kim Jong Il succeeded his father, but as he did not
have the same political weight as the historical leader of
North Korean communism, a power struggle was started in the
In 1995, extensive floods affected 5 million North
Koreans, and the floods led to major crop damage. It is
estimated that the loss was a total of 1.9 million tonnes of
food, prompting the government to take the very atypical
step of asking for help from abroad. Japan, the country's
main capitalist trading partner, sent 300,000 tons and South
Korea 150,000 tons. The United States decided to lift the
trade blockade of the country and a delegation of interested
business people visited the country. At the same time, North
Korea declared that it no longer opposed the presence of
North American troops in South Korea.
The shortage of food was further exacerbated in 1996. In
some areas there was even a famine. During the year, the
influx of refugees continued to the south. In February 1997,
the party's secretary, Huang Yang Yop, resigned and sought
political asylum in South Korea. It triggered a new
political crisis. Huang initially sought refuge in South
Korea's embassy in Beijing as he was on his way home after a
tour of Japan and China. Two days later, North Korean Prime
Minister Kang Song San was forced to resign. He was replaced
by Hong Song Nam. In October Kim Jong Il was formally
appointed Secretary-General of the Labor Party, but due to
internal rivalry, he failed to be appointed as the country's
In late 1997, the government proposed tripartite
negotiations between Pyongyang, Seul and Washington to reach
a final peace agreement for the Korean Peninsula. The
ceasefire agreement of 1953 has never been replaced by a
peace treaty, so formally the country has continued to war
with the United States. Since 1953, the superpower has had
at least 40,000 soldiers permanently stationed at the border
with North Korea.
In 1998 it was estimated that since 1995, around 100,000
people had died due to hunger, cold and lack of medical
treatment. The United Nations Food Organization, FAO stated
that the daily ration in the north was only 100 grams of
rice. The food situation had been further aggravated by the
drought that followed the floods. At the same time,
Pyongyang was unwilling to give in to the political pressure
from Seul. In early 1998, international food aid was not yet
able to meet the need, and in March the government
introduced a series of measures to transition to «war
economy» to cope with the situation.