One Foot Goes In Front Of The Other

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For a few months in 2017, I lived in Japan. I had a job and an apartment, working a nine-to-five job. Why I only stayed for such a short period is deserving of a post in itself. Maybe in the future? Or if I run into you on the street, we can get a coffee and I’ll spill the beans. As for this post I will focus on a site I visited to during my free time. Getting around Japan is very expensive, but if you are dedicated to searching out large time capsules like myself, its worth it drain on the wallet.

On a bright summer weekend, I visited this North Korean School in Gifu Prefecture. From the information I could gather, it opened in 1975 and shut its doors in 1998. It was an elementary and middle school for ethnic Korean students born and raised in Japan. This school like the other Chōsen Gakkō in Japan (North Korean School) are supported by the Chongryon, the General Association of Koreans in Japan. It appears when the school closed, the students were transferred to other schools in Gifu and Aichi Prefectures.

It’s been lying in a dormant state since 1998. As you can see from the pictures above the kudzu has gradually taken back the land. Rusty play equipment, a sports field, and an unknown structure are buried by nature. The school is perched atop a hill, providing a magnificent view of the surrounding area. These websites show when the school was a bit more accessible and less vandalized. Before going inside, I expected it to be 1) gutted of any interesting artifacts and 2) vandalized to hell.

While there was a fair amount of destruction in former classrooms and offices, I was pleasantly surprised to find old textbooks and Juche propaganda (written by Kim Jong Il!) lying in the rubble.  Picture frames which clearly were tributes to Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il hard work and love for the Worker’s Party hang in defeat. This place definitely is worth repeat visits.  It give you pause when  flipping through Worker Party material and reflect upon all the current state of North Korea.

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