Read the text and the statements. Some of these statements are true according to the text; some of them are false. Choose the correct answer True (T) or False (F) for each statement.
Anyone can leave the room if my story is boring, right? No one is forced to stay here. In that sense, you are all free. Let me give you another example. There is a great diversity of hairstyles, makeup, and fashion in this room, and you are all very stylish. Even the way you guys are sitting is very relaxed. However, in North Korea, the regime controls everything from fashion to the way that you sit. Blue jeans, hair dye, and short skirts are all prohibited in North Korea.
All students must wear uniforms and badges with portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il every day, from the beginning of elementary school to the end of university. Officers are everywhere in cities to monitor every North Korean, making sure that they are all wearing their badges, not wearing blue jeans, and not dyeing their hair. When I was in school, I had to wear a school uniform that had to be immaculately clean. Each class had roughly thirty-five students, and of those, around five students became leaders in the class according to their songbun, a social classification ranking. Beginning in elementary school, students are classified according to their songbun. Since my parents’ songbun was very good, I was able to become one of the leaders, and I was entitled to become a “chairman of the ideology commission.”
Most of my childhood was spent during what is called the March of the Suffering, or the Great Famine, in North Korea. Some of us lacked food, there were a lot of heartbreaking stories. Some of my friends had to go god knows where to dig up grass to eat. Some had accidents while jumping onto the food train from Russia. Some lost their parents and became beggars, and some literally worked themselves to death. Had you taken a walk, you could have easily found corpses—those who starved. Security officers would then come to remove them.
I did not experience starvation, even though I was born during the Great Famine, but my father’s whole business was confiscated after an investigation from Pyongyang. When individuals own more than a certain amount of wealth, they have their entire property confiscated or are executed by a firing squad.
My father was able to save his life with help from a bowibu (North Korean secret police) officer, whom my father had bribed in the past. However, my mother became ill from a heart disease due to the shock of the incident. After that, her heart disease advanced into other health complications such as diabetes and cataract disease. She died of cancer when I was eighteen. My life completely changed after my mother’s death. I felt no more attachment to my country and did not want to waste my future in a country that had no freedom.
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The author is giving a speech in front of an audience
The so-called leaders in class could wear different clothes.
At school, students were classified according to their marks.
During the Great Famine, you could see dead people all around.
It’s possible to prosper in North Korea if you have contacts.