Organized Panel Session
The education of Korea’s youth assumed high priority in post-liberation North Korea. Schools were to be the breeding grounds—with textbooks and supplementary reading materials as the facilitators—of a new kind of human: literate and intimately familiar with Korea’s rich pre-colonial historical and literary past; highly skilled in the valuable disciplines of natural science and technology; and, most importantly, readily positioned to apply practical learning toward the benefit of North Korea’s new society. To this end, moral education—once a central pillar in colonial education—was refashioned and mobilized for North Korea’s particular political and social reforms. Moral education was central to political treatises, and was important also for science education. Moral education was also invoked as an antidote to organized religion and spiritual faith. An examination of post-liberation reading materials for youth demonstrates how North Korean socialist morality was rendered as separate from, and as a response to, religious education. At the same time, science took the place of religion as a holistic system that would provide answers to questions about how to live well and how to be good in the world. This paper, then, suggests that it is productive to consider how, during North Korea’s nascent nation-building period, science and scientific inquiry, with its ensuing methods of observation, exploration, imagination, and deduction, was a compelling system of thought that helped organize the way people related to one another and to the world.