North Korean geography textbooks, the main source of information for students there about South Korea, distort or disparage South Korea's economic development by way of exalting the North Korean system, an academic here says.
Kwon Jung-hwa, a professor of geology at Korea National University of Education, analyzed the textbooks and found that one book for the fourth year of middle school claims, "There are industrial districts in Seoul, including Guro district. The plants in these districts are nothing but subcontractors that produce or assemble goods under agreements based on raw materials imported from capitalist countries such as the U.S. and Japan." "Relying on others for raw materials and fuel is like leaving your economic fate in their hands," it quotes North Korean leader Kim Jong-il as saying.
The book says Seoul and Incheon "are well known to the world as heavily polluted cities. The streets in Seoul emanate a foul smell from smokes and gases from factory chimneys, exhaust fumes from vehicles, and emissions from various kinds of factories."
It also offers straightforward political propaganda. "Seoul is a den of reactionaries where fascist governing agencies of the U.S. imperialist aggressors and the South Korean puppet clique are concentrated. It is becoming a citadel of colonial rule. The U.S. imperialists maintain their local governing organizations in Seoul, including the U.S. Embassy and the UN Command."
Meanwhile, the North's history textbooks pay almost no attention to South Korea.
Han Man-gil, the chief of a center giving educational support for young North Korean refugees in South Korea at the Korean Educational Development Institute, said, "North Korea's history textbooks handle history until the 1920s. Its modern history books focus on Kim Il-sung and his family."