February 24, 2024

‘They don’t care for us’: North Korean defector teachers fight for higher wages

Instructors say low pay is driving away those who can help children of defectors navigate South Korean school system

Ever since she started working, Choi Geumsil has always been a teacher. It was her job back in North Korea, where she gave lessons under the watchful gaze of the Kim leaders’ portraits, and it became her profession again after she defected in 2009 to South Korea.

And it was in that adopted country, at an elementary school in a Seoul suburb, where she could be found on a recent afternoon leading a class of eleven kids between the ages of 6 and 12 — all children of North Korean defectors.