South, North Korea to open joint college in September


South and North Korea will open their first joint college later this year in a show of warming ties between the two sides, officials said Wednesday.

The Pyongyang Science and Technology College is scheduled to open in the North’s capital on Sept. 10 and will initially house 150 graduate students for such courses as master of business administration (MBA).

“We had originally planned to open it in April but strained inter-Korean ties delayed the project. The favorable environment will make the project go smoothly this time,” said Lim Wan-geun, a boarding member of the Northeast Asia Foundation for Education and Culture.

Kim Jin-kyong, dean of Yanbian Science and Technology College, will be the first dean of the inter-Korean college, the official said. The college will consist of a five-story building for lectures, a four-story building for a library, dining facilities and research and five dormitory buildings.

Inter-Korean relations have warmed considerably since the 2000 summit of their leaders, but tension persists since the rival states are still technically in a state of war, as no peace treaty was signed at the end of the Korean War.

South Korea suspended its food and fertilizer aid to North Korea after it conducted missile tests in July. A possible resumption of the aid was blocked due to the North’s nuclear bomb test in October.

But the relationship was revived after North Korea promised to end its nuclear weapons program in return for energy aid, and the two sides held the first ministerial talks in seven months in March.

Koreas to open first joint university
Korea Herald

Cho Ji-hyun

The first joint university between South and North Korea will open in Pyongyang in September, a senior member of the founding committee told The Korea Herald.

South Koreans including Park Chan-mo, president of POSTECH in Pohang, visited Pyongyang yesterday to discuss the establishment and operation of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, or PUST.

Early last year, the Northeast Asia Foundation for Education and Culture, a Seoul-based nonprofit organization, agreed with the North’s education authorities to open PUST as early as last October.

The schedule has been delayed due to the lack of progress in their talks amid tensions caused by North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests last year.

Their contacts have recently resumed as the ties between the two Koreas improved following the six-party agreement on the North’s nuclear programs in Beijing.

In an interview with The Korea Herald, Park, a member of the founding committee, said the school will open in September and that further discussions will take place before the opening.

The visiting delegation includes Kim Chin-kyung, president of Yanbian University of Science and Technology, who assumes the post of founding president of the Pyongyang university.

Choi Kwang-chul, professor of Seoul’s Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, also joined the trip.

For the four-day trip, they are to inspect the progress of construction work, and discuss the cross-border passage of faculty and internet connections for the school.

“We will raise two demands – constructing a land route between the two Koreas to allow professors to travel across the borders and providing internet connection,” Park said.

A Seoul government official also confirmed that the school will open in September.

The project was first initiated in 2001. The Northeast Asia Foundation for Education and Culture plans to expand the school into a university with 240 professors and more than 2,000 students from both countries.

However, the university plans to open with 50 professors and 200 students participating in master’s and doctoral programs in its first year, university officials wrote on their school website.

The university project is led by Park, Lee and Malcolm Gillis, former university president of Rice University in Texas.

In a separate effort, POSTECH has worked on a joint project with the Pyongyang Informatics Center, or PIC, since April 2001, according to Park.

Using PIC’s three dimensional computer aided design program, POSTECH has completed the development of a software called “Construction,” which offers a virtual walk through the construction site to detect errors, he said.


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