North Korean Youth Program
The Hangyoreh School is an annual 3-week intensive program for North Korean youth. Since 2001, the alternative program has helped alleviate academic difficulties, foster creativity, hone logical thinking, increase North Korean students’ awareness of their rights and freedoms, and encourage consideration for others. The program is designed for North Korean youth who recently arrived in South Korea. For three weeks, roughly 30 North Korean students live together with 15 professional teachers and volunteers. They take various academic courses such as math, English, and history, and they participate in extracurricular activities and exercises to build their leadership and social skills. The program also helps North Korean youth better understand how a free and democratic society functions through special lectures, courses on civic and human rights, cultural excursions, film presentations, and volunteer activities. To ease young North Koreans’ transition into South Korean society, the Hangyoreh School also fosters friendships among the students and their South Korean peers through weekend trips to cultural sites with South Korean students. Relationships are also built between the students and their North Korean peers who have already been in South Korea for some time—many of them former students of the Hangyoreh School themselves. Often these older peers become role models and mentors for the Hangyoreh students, providing invaluable insights on how they overcame the challenges of adjusting to life in South Korea.