In this study, we examined the career records of five teachers who were involved in architectural education during the early period of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). In previous research, we examined the DPRK’s architectural and urban history to elucidate the historical influence of Japanese colonial rule. In doing so, we acquired materials published on September 15, 1947 by the Education Department of the People’s Committee of North Korea. The materials related to the appointment of teachers to architecture classes at Kim Il-sung University, and they detail the career histories and autobiographies of five architecture teachers. In the present study, we analyzed the materials to elucidate the lives of those in charge of architecture education in the fledgling republic while comparing and relating their histories with the period’s social circumstances.
Our analysis revealed that the five teachers, who studied architecture before 1945, had some experience in research and practice and were around 30 years of age. Four teachers had studied in Japan, and one had studied in the Soviet Union. To university authorities of the time, a teacher who studied architecture in Japan would have represented a vestige of Japanese colonial rule lingering in North Korea after having attained independence. Accordingly, the four teachers believed that they should take great care to align their stances and ideological inclinations with those of the regime. The fifth teacher, after having studied in the Soviet Union, was dispatched by the Soviet authorities to North Korea as an architectural engineer. The teacher was involved in major projects as a designer in Pyongyang, the core city of the aspiring socialist state. He significantly influenced North Korean post-liberation urban architecture, both as an educator and as a practicing architect.
Our study demonstrated that early North Korean architectural education was led by architects who were trained in Japan or the Soviet Union before 1945. It also demonstrated that architecture teachers’ careers reflected the situation of North Korea, which was establishing itself as a nation with some degree of Soviet influence after achieving liberation from Japanese colonial rule.