10 Aprile 2021 :
Daily NK learned on 9 April 2021 that following an Organization and Guidance Department (OGD) investigation into the Ministry of Higher Education’s “non-standing commission for the implementation of the Distance Education Act,” North Korean authorities last March executed the chairman of the commission and are currently conducting ideological examinations of other commission members.
“The non-standing commission was established in June of last year,” a source in the country told Daily NK. “The OGD conducted an investigation because [the commission failed] to make any progress and because some have criticized the government’s policies.”
Because the Distance Education Act non-standing commission was directly affiliated with the higher education ministry, the authorities selected a department director in the ministry, a man in his 50s named Park, to serve as chairman. The authorities also selected approximately 20 professors to serve as members of the commission.
However, after establishing the commission last June, commission members allegedly conducted weekly meetings as perfunctory procedures only and failed to achieve any progress or results. The OGD investigated the members after receiving word that some of them, led by Park, gathered to complain about government policy.
Beginning in the early days of the commission, members reportedly complained at every meeting that the necessary facilities and equipment would have to be installed before the Distance Education Act could be implemented. Park repeatedly explained this to his superiors, who responded by saying that “There are no instructions from the Central Committee, so stay put [and keep silent].”
After hearing this, Park bluntly expressed his displeasure by saying “I don’t understand why [the authorities] would choose to implement the act, create this commission, and call busy professors away from their university jobs [if they were not going to give the commission any resources].”
Because he estimated that the implementation of the Distance Education Act would take a long time, Park suggested that it would be better to retrain teachers, increase the number of schools and instructors, and send them to work in relatively underdeveloped regions.
When this suggestion was met with silence by higher-ups, Park vented his frustration to commission members, saying that “Even if [we] make suggestions, [they] just tell [us] to keep [our] mouths shut, so let’s just go through the motions of gathering and then go home.”
A member of the commission who also serves as the dean of the Kim Il Sung University School of Law met with Ri Guk Chol, the president of Kim Il Sung University and the head of the Ministry of Higher Education, to discuss the matter. The dean said that “the ‘distance learning policy’ is progressing poorly and things are not getting done properly. If the Party finds out, it could become a big problem. Director [Park] was complaining, but if the Party knew the situation, they would solve some of the problems [making it impossible for the commission to get results], right?”
However, Ri Guk Chol dug up specific comments by Park and reported him to the Central Committee, saying that “Everyone knows that the nation is experiencing difficulties, but policies can’t be executed properly because of people like [Park], whose heads are not in the right place.”
After receiving Ri’s report, the OGD conducted an investigation into the commission. The Ministry of State Security executed Park in the second week of March for “anti-party and anti-revolutionary sectarian activities within the education sector.” The source reported that the OGD will conduct ideological examinations of the other approximately 20 professors throughout the month of April.
North Korean authorities have reorganized the non-standing commission, according to the source.