That Crazy Tower in Pisa

In Pyongsong, I had the opportunity to visit the Kim Jong Suk High School. Although a brief and prepared visit, we were able to participate in an English language lesson, interacting with the students who were engaging, clever, and mirthful. 

Three Brits, teachers living in Beijing who were also there, were asked to step to the front of the room for a question-and-answer session (I hung back to take photos) that was planned as part of our tour. Though the students’ questions were planned in advance and controlled, their genuine belly laughs and smiles at the men’s impromptu jokes and stories were (seemed) authentic, and charming…we all just want to be happy.

The principal was welcoming and kind, and took pride showing us his school.

I had to giggle at the lesson on the board. One would think that if making the effort to put one’s best foot forward for the sole purpose of demonstrating the outstanding quality of English language instruction (because North Korea is great at everything due to the great leader’s greatness) at least the lesson would be correct….but this was, after all, NoKo.

Here’s what was written:


That crazy tower in Pisa.


(1) She said, “The school begins at 8:20 at
our school ever day (change into reported speech)

(2) My mother wanted me to write a diary every day (choose make, let, have)

(3) Rewrite using with “enough”

The food was too hot to eat

The photos that follow show the strangeness of that classroom: the multitude of handlers all along the back row, and a security camera mounted on the ceiling. But I also captured one curious student paying attention to me instead of listening to his teacher, and for that, he made my “Shit I think might be real” list.


The principal:


Inside the school: