Even North Korean Students Know About “Harry Potter”
It is easy to lose perspective and forget how much of a phenomenon Harry Potter is. We’ve all grown up with the books and the movies, and for most of us Harry Potter is a part of our lives that we don’t even question.
To get a sense of the true scale of Harry Potter’s ubiquity, did you know that even students in North Korea like Harry Potter?
South Korean journalist Suki Kim decided to go undercover and teach at one of North Korea’s top universities, reporting on what life was like in a country so at odds with the rest of the world. North Korea has been under a communist dictatorship since the end of the Korean War in 1953 and is almost completely closed off from outside influences, so one would assume this would include Harry Potter. But Kim successfully managed to show one of her classes the film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – it was a hit with the students, Kim says of the experience:
They loved it. Most of them had never seen a Western film. They related to Hermione and Ron and saw that they were ‘just like us; in school like us; with homework to do like us.’
I’d been teaching essay writing to my students, which ended up being really impossible because essays are about actually coming up with your own argument and proving it with evidence, which is critical thinking, and they really couldn’t do it, so essays became this headache classroom lesson.
And in that movie, Harry Potter, there’s a scene where Hermione says, ‘I have to write an essay for Professor Snape’s class,’ and she rolls her eyes, and they realised that she also didn’t like writing essays.
And my students really connected with that moment… they couldn’t believe there was a girl outside, in the outside world, who also was writing essays.
So I think that moment was really special and also heartbreaking for me, realising that’s what they really want, as 19-year-old kids, to connect with the outside world, which their country will never let them.
The plight of North Korea, and the future of these students, remains to be seen, but if North Korea is letting in Harry Potter, maybe there’s hope yet…
But one thing we know for sure is the key to Harry Potter‘s success: Everyone hates essays.
If you think this is interesting, check out how we’re trying to spread the word on our global fundraiser here!
Have you ever had a moment when you realized just how sensational Harry Potter is? Tell us in the comments!
Source of cover photo: sukikim.com