North Korea targets Kaesong dialect in an effort to eradicate non-standard speech

North Korea enforces cultural language protection in Kaesong, deploying teachers to alter local accent. Backlash arises, affecting residents and educators.

To enhance ideological control over the younger generation, North Korea is moving to implement the Pyongyang Cultural Language Protection Act in Kaesong, a city close to South Korea. An anonymous source in South Pyongan Province revealed that the authorities have dispatched 30 teaching college graduates to Kaesong to address the local accent, which shares similarities with South Korean intonation.
The Workers’ Party of Korea’s Central Committee has been informed that due to the prevailing South Korean-like accent in Kaesong, even local teachers find it challenging to adhere to the Pyongyang Cultural Language Protection Act. Consequently, the government has deployed 30 female graduates from a teacher training college in Nampo, South Pyongan Province, to Kaesong. Despite the geographic basis for the linguistic similarity, authorities believe transmitting this accent to the next generation contradicts the Act’s spirit.

Additionally, plans are underway to send teachers from Pyongyang to Kaesong, aiming to instruct kindergarten and elementary school students in the standard Pyongyang dialect. In essence, the North Korean government aims to eradicate South Korean speech patterns in Kaesong by educating young children in the standard Pyongyang dialect. Although the current initiative involves sending only 30 teachers to Kaesong, plans are in place to augment the number of relocated teachers in the city’s kindergartens and primary schools.

Shortly after the arrival of the recently deployed teachers at their new assignments, the government’s forceful actions have not only upset parents and children but also the teachers. Residents of Kaesong, including schoolchildren and parents, perceive it as unjust to be abruptly labelled for using a “traitorous way of speaking” when they believe they are simply using their local dialect, which they have never regarded as akin to the South Korean dialect.
For teachers in Kaesong, life has become difficult as they are compelled to leave their parents and siblings to instruct children from a different area.