Monday, July 31, 2017

Women Doctors in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Recently, I heard that women doctors have been on the increase at Kim Hyong Jik University of Education. So I decided to meet them.

Life without Regret

It is nearly 40 years since Dr. Pak Jong Hwa, an associate professor of the faculty of history, began to work as a teacher. It was after a branch school in her native mountain village greeted its first teacher that Jong Hwa cherished the desire to become an educator. To her the teacher was not merely a teacher who passed on knowledge to them. Whenever the brook rose her teacher carried her on her back across the stream to go to school. And when she was absent from school because of illness the teacher visited her at home to teach her the lessons until late at night. So she felt as if the teacher had been her mother. Now she decided to become an educator just like the teacher, and applied to attend a college of education.

Even when the situation of the country was driven to the brink of war owing to the Panmunjom incident caused by the US imperialists’ brigandish provocation and all young people of the country volunteered to go to the front line the government saw to it that the students of colleges of education kept studying. At that time Jong Hwa fully realized the importance of the work of educating young people, the future of the country, and firmly made up her mind to dedicate her whole life to education of the younger generations. This is why the woman became a teacher.

While working as a teacher she always missed her old teacher and tried to make the same career. She unhesitatingly gave what she chose as seed for her doctoral thesis to her students to help them write their own. One day, about 30 years after she became a teacher, her daughter asked her why she did not try to get an academic degree. Then she replied with good grace, “I think you can understand my mind as you are also a mother and educator. My happiness lies in dedication.”

In recognition of her lifelong efforts to raise lots of educators and able persons the State made sure that she was present at national meetings and commemorative functions and awarded high decorations.

When she obtained a doctor’s degree, an official of the university said, “Medals of doctorate are shining on the breasts of her many disciples. Her medal of doctorate can be said to be one of the many beads of sweat she has shed for the sake of the country’s future.”

Wife of Hero

In 2011 Kim Chun Mi, a teacher of the faculty of life science, was very happy. Her husband had been awarded the title of Labour Hero in honour of his distinguished services in a construction project.

Lots of her acquaintances who learned the news through TV and radio congratulated her. According to them, her husband owed his feat not a little to her efforts.

As a matter of fact Chun Mi had been busy supporting her husband who had been always away from home and attending to all affairs of her big family while working as a teacher. But she had never complained.

Amid the congratulations, she found herself feeling worried.

The country is putting forward women, too, as masters of society turning one of the two wheels of revolution, she thought. Now she began to write a thesis for a doctorate. This made her life much busier. Then her husband and all other members of her family helped her with her effort to
fulfil her duty as one of masters of society.

In 2015 she completed her thesis and obtained her doctorate in life science. As the one dealing with the world history of development of biology, the thesis caused a great sensation in the academic circle for it was the first in the country to pioneer a new field of interdisciplinary science that combines biology with historical science.

When I admired her, calling her hero’s wife and doctor, she showed a pink flush and said in a quiet tone, “In fact the two titles are the same in significance, I think. That’s why we women
are called flower of family and flower of the country. I only tried to fulfil what I have to.”

Our Father

Dr. Choe Nam Sun, a department head of the faculty of linguistics, is an eminent poet in her thirties as well as teacher. Over her short career as a poet she has written and presented over 100 lyrics in several publications. The collection of her poetry I Turn on the Light turned out to be a hit. And Our Father, an epic she wrote not long ago, created a great sensation in the public as soon as it was published.

I asked her what had been the inspiration for the epic. She then told me that she had decided to write an epic when she was moved to hear the story of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un’s fatherly care for the children of the Pyongyang Primary School for Orphans during her visit to the school for field instruction. The Supreme Leader, with a broad smile, said he was blessed with many children and earnestly asked the administrators and teachers of the school to take good care of the orphans without forgetting his concern for them so that the children could grow up as upright, bright and happy people free from sorrow, saying that they had nowhere but the Party to turn to and rely on.

Her impression from the story soon inspired her to write excellent verses. She wrote and wrote, shedding tears of emotion. At last, what she had seen and heard all turned into an epic, a fine materialization of all people’s thoughts and feelings. Whoever read the epic was filled with happiness of living in a world of boundless affection.

“We were at a loss to know how to express what we all felt, and now you’ve relieved us of our anxiety by writing Our Father.” This is what those she had been acquainted with in trolley buses on the way to and from work said in unison.

She said to me in a thoughtful tone, “A writer said in an article that poet is the singer of the times.

The story of the school made me think that I should become the very singer because I knew the words children and woman represent all sorts of happiness in our society. With my pen I’ll more strongly sing of the great fatherly embrace which puts forward children as king of the country and women as flower of the country.”

Ri Kum Chol

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