North Korean Children Taught About the “Enemy”

A duck character from the animated series "Squirrel and Hedgehog" is featured on the wall of the Changchon nursery school.

Taking a page out of the Palestinian playbook:

But when our government minders brought us reporters into the Changchon farm community’s nursery school, my brain got a little fixated on the wall art: Just past a painting of children skipping hand-in-hand beneath large letters saying “We Are Happy!” were some fratricidal forest friends.

First to catch my eye was a duck firing a machine gun at a wolf. Then I noticed the squirrel with hand grenades taking out a cowering weasel, with backup provided by a hedgehog with a RPG launcher.

I suppose in a country that has long followed a policy of songun, or “military first,” the powers-that-be figure it’s never too early to let the youngsters know what’s what. …

“Squirrel and Hedgehog,” my guides informed me, is as familiar to and beloved by North Korean kids as any Disney toon is to Yankee tots. Produced by state-run SEK Studios, the long-running animated TV show centers on the inhabitants of a make-believe place called Flower Hill, which is populated by squirrels, hedgehogs, and ducks.

The squirrels are the leaders, while the hedgehogs are the soldiers. Ducks are, duh, the navy. As you might guess, this squadron represents North Korea. The Flower Hill gang must contend with evil weasels (Japan) and wolves (the United States), while occasionally dealing with friendly but drunk bears (Russia). 

“It’s a classic,” my guide, Ms. Hwang, informed me. “Everyone knows Squirrel and Hedgehog.”


(Courtesy: OFK. Kamsahamnida.)