North Korean parents are willing to make huge sacrifices to ensure education for their children. A Unification Ministry official said the zeal for education in the North "is as high as in the South." Some defectors who have settled down in the South have asked for subsidies for their children's private education rather than living allowances, he added.
Chinese-made solar reading lamps are selling like hot cakes in North Korea. According to a North Korean source, the reading lamps sell for 10,000 to 20,000 North Korean won, a price several times the average monthly wage.
The customers are chiefly parents with children preparing for college entrance exams. Due to do the poor power supply, North Korea except for some parts of Pyongyang is plunged into pitch darkness every night, making it impossible to study. The solar-powered reading lamps provide a measure of independence from the power grid.
In the North, background determines if youngsters can enter college, and not all parents can afford to concentrate their energy on their children's education. But relatively well-to-do families provide tutoring for their children by employing students of prestigious universities, such as Kim Il Sung University or Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies, in efforts to prepare their children for college entrance exams.