There are more than 60 schools in Japan that cater to the country’s North Korean minority, standing in solidarity with their homeland.
Under the guidance of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, which acts as North Korea’s de-facto embassy in the absence of formal diplomatic relations with Japan, pupils study Korean language and history.
In an increasingly hostile environment, many students are dismissing the mainstream representations of North Korea popular elsewhere in the world — despite facing bomb threats and other harassment.
“Every time news (about North Korea) breaks, we get anonymous calls threatening to bomb the school or kill students at a nearby station,” principal Shin Gil-Ung told AFP.
But student Chong Soni, 16, said: "I think all the Japanese media coverage is wrong." And Ryong Chi Hyon, 17, said: "Nations like the United States, which North Korea is confronting, have technical strength. I hope North Korea will develop more technology so it can defend itself from those nations."
Many Koreans living in Japan experience discrimination, facing serious racial issues in areas such as employment and social welfare. Japanese anger over North Korea's nuclear missile program has exacerbated such tensions.