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North Korea's Caste System

When Choi Seung Chol was born in North Korea in 1990, his parents believed that they already knew how his life would unfold. The government would feed him and provide him with free housing, education, and health care. In exchange, the authorities would tell him what to think and what to say; decide where he would live, study, and work; and most important, determine whether he would be able to join the military or the ruling Korean Workers’ Party. To make all these decisions, the state would refer to Choi's performance at work and school and his songbun—the sociopolitical classification that determines…

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