An Abandoned North Korean School in Gifu, Japan

A few months ago I heard about an old abandoned North Korean school less than an hour by train from my apartment. Now, you’re probably thinking: ‘Wait, there’s a North Korean school in Japan?’. Well, apparently as of 2013 there’s not one North Korean school in Japan, but 73. I already knew there was a substantial Korean population in Japan (known as Zainichi Koreans), but while researching this school I learned all about the substantial pro-North Korean population, and the Chōsen gakkō system, which is basically a large group of schools that teach Zainichi Korean children of pro-North Korean families. Everything in these schools is done in Korean rather than Japanese, and it seems, as far as I can tell, to insert a healthy amount of North Korean propaganda into the mix. For what it’s worth, Japan seems really not into having these schools around. You can learn more about it here and here if you’re interested.

Anyway, snappily titled 東濃朝鮮初中級学校 (that’s Tono Korean Elementary and Middle School to you and me), this abandoned school sits at the top of a tall hill in a little residential area about a twenty minute walk from a rural station in Gifu prefecture. I went there with some friends last Autumn, and while we were expecting big padlocked gates and angry No Entry signs there was no attempt to keep anyone out. Here are some photos of the fascinating-but-incredibly-spooky building.

*For the sake of any legal issues that might arise, I think it’s worth officially noting that I definitely didn’t go here and all these pictures were taken by a different man whose name I forgot.


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