The Korean Association for the Study of English Language and Linguistics

Journal Archive

Korean Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 22

[ Article ]
Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 22, No. 0, pp. 279-299
Abbreviation: KASELL
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print) 2586-7474 (Online)
Received 21 Jan 2022 Revised 15 Mar 2022 Accepted 27 Mar 2022

북한 영어교육의 패러다임 전환: 코퍼스 기반 분석
이영희 ; 김태영

The paradigm shift in English language teaching in North Korea: A corpus-assisted analysis
Younghee Cheri Lee ; Tae-Young Kim
(1st author) Teaching Professor, Dasan University College, Ajou Univ, Tel: 031-219-3053 (
(corresponding author) Professor, Dept. of English Education, Chung-Ang Univ, Tel: 02-820-5392 (

© 2022 KASELL All rights reserved
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium provided the original work is properly cited.
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Over the past decades, a stream of research has witnessed that the changing sociopolitical and socioeconomic dynamics between North Korea and the outside world have triggered socioeducational changes in North Korea. Due to Kim Jong-un’s political conviction in ‘education’—with its heavy emphasis in the English language—as ‘the mother of science and technology,’ in recent years, such endeavors have become further accelerated in a structured and pragmatic manner. To date, a rising number of corpus-based studies have attempted to delineate the textual and formatting differences between English textbooks produced by Kim Jung-un’s regime and those produced by his predecessors, but not to explain how the English language input was implemented to reflect educational reform. In order to augment prior findings, therefore, the present study aims to investigate the shift in language input manifested in North Korean English textbooks, both quantity- and quality-wise. The results revealed that the textbook revisions made in the Kim Jong-un era were found to satisfy the lexical threshold (95%) of the BNC/COCA 3K core vocabulary, implying that the revised versions were thoroughly controlled with the optimum amount of language input. Regarding language input quality, Kim Jong-un’s revised textbooks held a larger portion of authentic and high-frequency 3-gram lexical bundles, which can generally be observable across the COCA, than those in the Kim Jong-il era. Based on the quantitative and qualitative enhancement of language input, implications are discussed in association with the concept of self-independence and maintenance of the Kim Jong-un regime.

Keywords: North Korea, English textbook, Kim Jong-un, language input, quantity, quality, t oken coverage, corpus, BNC/COCA, social change, education in North Korea


This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2021S1A5A2A01061744).

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