During the March of Tribulation, from 1994 through the start of 1998, the birth rate plummeted.
Such a situation continues to affect North Korean education even today. According to a source from North Hamkyung Province, “There are many empty classes in middle schools these days. Especially in rural areas, some schools have only three or four students.” In such cases, there are more teachers than students.
Since the famine, the authorities have also expanded education into subjects like psychology, ethics and American Imperialist Invasion History. More teachers are required, of course, even though the number of students is steadily decreasing.
In a poor, patriarchal society, responsibility for family life is a burden for women who have to support their families by trading in the jangmadang. Therefore, the number of women who choose to remain single is increasing, and it too is affecting the birthrate.
Those who were born during the March of Tribulation will go out into the world in the next three or four years, after graduating from senior middle school. By 2012, the authorities will be facing a serious lack of manpower, which will certainly hinder the development of a strong, prosperous state.
According to North Korean sources, the authorities are, quite rightly it would appear, seriously worrying about this lack of manpower, and the troubles in scientific and economic fields that it will engender, for at least the next decade.