One summer day in 1969, Kim Il Sung, on his way back from an inspection tour, told his driver to stop when he saw some children returning from school. He climbed out and called to them. They came running up with exclamations of joy, and greeted him. Caressing them with a fond look, the leader asked them which school they attended, what grade they were in and where their houses were.
“Let me look in your schoolbag,” he said, taking a bag off a boy’s shoulder. He opened the pencil-case, textbooks and notebooks. He praised the boy for keeping his textbooks clean and for his good handwriting. The boy was all smiles.
The leader asked the children if they studied together at home and how they liked their study group.
All said they liked it: One answered that they were sharing knowledge among themselves, and another that they were also sharing textbooks.
Kim Il Sung urged them again and again to study hard, before climbing into his car.
On the way, he said, as if to himself: “Children are honesty itself.”
But he was worried, because they were sharing textbooks. The boy’s answer means textbooks are in short supply, he mused.
Some time later, the Political Committee of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea met to discuss the issue of textbooks.
Kim Il Sung said: We must print textbooks of good paper, even if we have to delay the printing of other publications. Then he set up a preparatory committee for the new school year with senior officials at central, provincial, city and county levels.
He said in conclusion, “We are parents of pupils, aren’t we? This Political Committee meeting is a meeting of pupils’ parents, so to speak. Where will we be if we can’t find a solution to children’s education?”