North Korean School

Nagano Korean School (長野朝鮮初中級学校) is an abandoned school for North-Koreans in Matsumoto.

This is as paradoxical as it gets but Japan has many North-Korean schools. Japan occupied Korea for 40 years before World War II and during this time a lot of Koreans migrated to Japan. After the defeat of Japan, those Koreans got their nationality back and became Koreans national, with a right to stay on the Japanese territory. In 1965, Japanese recognized South Korea as a legitimate government and the Koreans in Japan were able to pick the new South-Korean nationality. Those who did not do it became automatically North-Koreans since there is no united Korea anymore (former Joseon). The North-Koreans are usually proud of their Korean origins and have many differences with the new, Americanized, South-Korea. They decided to build their own schools through the Chongryon association financed by the Pyongyang government. There are still about 10,000 students in the North-Korean schools in Japan.

This school was built in 1971. I liked the blockhaus kind of aesthetics they used. It was actually quite a big complex of buildings including from kindergarten to Middle school, even dormitory and wedding hall, far from the tiny abandoned school we used to see. Presumably brainwashing really needs to start from an early age.


  • 1971 – 1998
  • Nippon No Haikyo #100

  • Anon

    Ah, I’ve tried to find this one before I believe but ran out of time. Bit unfortunate that it’s as beaten up as it seems. I was hoping there’d be some interesting or at least amusing documents left behind. Thankyou for sharing these photos.

    The background of these schools is rather interesting. Basically, whilst nowadays its abundantly clear which Korea has the economic and social… ahem… edge, back in the initial years after the war the North raced ahead in it’s recovery. As such, it was the one that first sprung to the aid of non-naturalised former Korean nationals residing in Japan, which earnt it a lot of loyalty. As such, of the two Korean societies, the pro-North faction (Chongryon) originally had more members. Nowadays, the pro-South faction (Mindan) has more than twice as many members.

    The reason you find these abandoned schools is that ultimately funding dried up. At first, the North cut funding, and then later as the monetary burden was shifted onto local government and community, that funding started to evaporate under the pressure.

    There’s of course a lot more to them than this brief overview, but if you’re going to explore more of these, it may be worth having a read up on them. I feel understanding the context of a site can add a lot to urbexing.

  • T.J. Jindi

    Wow, that young lady in the 2nd picture, she looks like the girl “F” in Marebito. Haha! Anyway, nice photos, bro. I wish haikyo-ing in my country is like this. LoLz it’s super dangerous here in Malaysia.

    • Haha, oh wow, yeah a bit that’s true ! I’m not sure my girlfriend will agree to that comment though (she is that “young” lady). Dangerous to go to abandoned places in Malaysia? Why? And is there any?

      • Kaptkaos

        G’day Jordy I am new to your site and love anything abandoned. I did not realise that there was so many abandoned things in Japan. These schools for North Korea were they for teaching North Korean studies or were they run by the North Koreans to get more people to their way of thinking? Are you still with your girlfriend in the photos here or have you split up? Does she like to dress up in cosplay? I don’t know about her looking like the “F” girl but I think she would make a close double to the lead female Soul Reaper who gave her powers to the human male (Sorry I can’t spell their names so I have to try and describe them). She would look awesome dressed as a Soul Reaper at all these Haikyo sites as it would look like she was hunting Hollows. I love you site, keep up the great work.

        • It was not to convert people at all, it was just a North-Korean school for… North-Koreans living in Japan. We still have a lot of then around here, we even have a North-Korean university in Tokyo. Sometimes, my friends go to clubs and they actually meet North-Koreans and dance with them 😉

          She is my ex-girlfriend and yes, she likes clothes and acting so serafuku was part of it 🙂 Plus it was cool for the photos! She is definitely anime style (+ she loves anime), very otaku, unfortunately this is a world I don’t really know about 🙂

          • kaptkaos

            I didn’t think they would be for converting but I thought I would ask. How come the North Koreans just don’t go to the Japanese schools? Are they not allowed to or do they have trouble understanding some of the Japanese ways? They must be from wealthy and influential families as the average North Korean would never be able to afford to go to a school in another country.
            Sorry to hear that you broke up with your girlfriend I hope you are still friends with her at least. I’m also into anime but not to the extent of dressing up although I do find it fascinating as to the extent that fans will go to for the love of their anime.
            Keep up the good work with your site and who knows someday a kind owner may invite you to take as many pictures as you like of his haikyo.

  • miguelaim

    Wow I live in Nagano and would love to check this out. How can I get the address from you?

  • Videl Tam

    Was this school was torn down between May-Oct 2013?


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