Kiwi teacher in North Korea puts human face on people

north korea

A teacher at Our Lady Star of the Sea school in Christchurch who has been a teacher in North Korea says the current situation “saddens” him as he can put a human face to the people.

Tim Kearns knows that, if there were a war, the pupils he taught might well bear arms against the west, but he believes the likelihood of an all-out war is slim.

He says the people in North Korea are just like westerners.

“We constantly see them as robotic automatons, but they have personality, they can have a laugh, they love a bit of humour [and] were very interested in my life and what my life was like in New Zealand.”

“The teachers were terrific people to hang around with, and they’d had very little to do with foreigners,” he says.

Kearns spent three months teaching in Pyongyang, North Korea, in early 2006.

Originally posted to the Korea-New Zealand Friendship School, he was in great demand and was borrowed by other schools.

It is thought that he is the first Westerner to have taught in the North Korea secondary school system.

He returned to Korea for a further stint of teaching in 2008.

“When you walk in to class, the students all stand in a militaristic sort of way and say Good Morning Sir,” Mr Kearns describes.

“They allowed me to teach in my own style andI was surprised with their level of English. They wanted to come up and have a closer look at my eyes because they’d never seen blue eyes before.”

He says even though the North Korean regime is present everywhere you look in Pyongyang, he never felt like they were trying to indoctrinate him.

  • Look at Tim’s photos
  • Read what he wrote about his experience


News category: New Zealand.