Archive for the ‘Pyongyang University of Science and Technology’ Category

Nobel Prize winners visit PUST

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

According to a press release put out by PUST, Professor Aaron Ciechanover (Chemistry 2004), Professor Finn Kydland (Economics, 2004), and Dr. Sir Richard Robert (Medicine, 1993) visited the campus in Pyongyang.

PUST2016-NLvisit - 7

PUST2016-NLvisit - 6

PUST2016-NLvisit - 2c

You can read the press release for additional information.

While in Pyongyang, the laureates made some [misguided] comments on US sanctions. According to Deutcsh Welle:

Nobel medicine prize winner Richard Roberts, Nobel economics prize winner Finn Kydland and Nobel chemistry prize winner Aaron Ciechanover have described how United Nations sanctions and a lack of internet access are hampering North Korean scientists.

Speaking to reporters following their visit to Pyongyang, the three laureates from Norway, Britain and Israel called for a rollback of many of the international restrictions that have been placed on the Communist state.

“You don’t pressurize via making people sicker,” said Ciechanover: “That’s not the right way to go.”

Roberts described how North Korean academic institutions suffered from a lack of modern scientific equipment. He said restrictions on internet use prevented most scientists from collaborating with colleagues in other countries, or accessing the latest scientific literature.

“So this embargo is really hurting the scientists in some major ways, and I think that’s a great shame,” Roberts added.

He said there was a strong desire for more international exchanges. During the trip, at least two North Korean students were invited to the West.

The Western scientists visited hospitals, universities and research institutes in Pyongyang and met with students and academics. They described clean and modern facilities – a stark contrast to other accounts, which describe the country as brutally impoverished.

The trip, which has been described as an exercise in “silent diplomacy,” was planned more than two years ago with help from the International Peace Foundation (IPF). In turn the Vienna-based organization received an unsolicited email from the Korean National Peace Committee.

Notice that Kydland, the economist, is not quoted in reference to the sanctions. UN Sanctions do not impede economic or social progress so much as North Korea’s actual economic, trade, and investment policies. North Korea has only itself to blame for the state of its economy. Finally, there is no UN embargo on the DPRK, only targeted sanctions on entities that all members of the UNSC agree are involved in the country’s weapons programs. The US, but not UN, has imposed an embargo of “dual use goods” going to the DPRK, but this is aimed at the country’s military, and applies to countries other than the DPRK.

The doctors also demonstrated an ignorance of socialist health economics when they visited the Okryo Children’s Hospital. According to the New York Times:

But the laureates suggested Saturday that the United Nations sanctions imposed on the North because of its nuclear program should be eased. At the Okryu Children’s Hospital in Pyongyang, a showcase medical center that Kim Jong-un visited during its construction in 2013, Mr. Ciechanover said that there were 300 beds and a capacity for 300 outpatients, but that doctors administered only about 60 tests a day, a low figure that he attributed to the sanctions. Doctors faced shortages of medicine and took the view that “you give only what you have to,” he said.

The United Nations sanctions do not apply to medicine, but they restrict the North’s access to foreign currency, and the government is known to channel its limited resources toward the military.

Also, some BBC reporters covering the PUST visit were expelled.

Here is coverage on KCTV.


PUST holds second graduation ceremony

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014


Pictured Above (Google Earth): PUST

On Wednesday 19th November, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) held its second graduation ceremony of 2014, at the campus in the south side of Pyongyang.

100 undergraduate students in science and technology received Bachelor degrees from the co-Presidents of PUST, in the presence of foreigners and diplomats including ambassadors from Europe, Asia and Latin America and UN representatives.

These new graduates are the first year-group of students, who came to PUST in October 2010, when the university began classes in electrical and electronic engineering, computer science; agriculture and life sciences; and finance and management. Some will remain at PUST as graduate students and most others will go to various DPRK state universities for further study. PUST is also active in sending graduate students for both short-term and long-term study abroad, at European and Asian universities, under various partnerships and scholarship schemes.

For more details please see the Press Release (PDF).


Pyongyang awards “citizenship” to Korean-American

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

UPDATE 1: Hat tip to a reader in the commentsection…Mr. Park was given honorary citizenship to the city of Pyongyang, not to the DPRK. This is the DPRK equivalent of getting the “key to the city”.

ORIGINAL POST: Here is the certificate of authenticity (as reported by Yonhap):


This award was given to the head of Pyonghwa Motors (now for sale).

Here is more information from Yonhap:

The head of inter-Korean automaker Pyeonghwa Motors said Tuesday that he was made an honorary citizen of Pyongyang late last year to reflect his contribution to North Korea’s development.

In an interview with Yonhap News Agency, Park Sang-kwon said he received the citizenship at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in the North Korean capital on Dec. 18.

Park has led the carmaker that started off as a joint venture between South Korea’s Tongil Group, run by the Unification Church, and North Korea. Production began in 2002, with the company producing about 2,000 vehicles every year.

He said his citizenship has a serial number of 002 and has an inscription saying that the honor is being bestowed because of his contribution to the fatherland and the Korean people. He is the first foreign national to have received the honor under the communist country’s new leader Kim Jong-un.

Kim Chin-kyung, the Korean-American president of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology was the first to receive an honorary citizenship in Aug. 2011 by late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

“The reason why they gave me the citizenship reflects recognition for the trust I have shown them and may be a sign that they want me to more freely engage in business activities,” he said. Park claimed that the citizenship can be seen as a sign that the North will allow him to start a new business in the country.

He then said that the reason why Tongil decided to turn over management of the carmaker last November was so it could focus on a wholly-owned business operation in the country. Last year, the business group created by late Rev. Moon Sun-myung also agreed to hand over control of the Pothonggang Hotel in Pyongyang.

The executive said he had asked the North to approve such a step.

“Pyeonghwa Motors has been generating profit for the past five years,” Park said. The businessman said that in the future, he wants to engage in the distribution of household necessities in North Korea, and in particular to Pyongyang.

He said there is a need to show that a wholly-owned (outside-invested) company that is not tied to a joint venture project with a North Korean partner can succeed in the country, which can act as an incentive for other foreign companies to invest.

He pointed out that Chinese companies that invested in the North are generally those that have not done well at home. He said that successful South Korean, Japanese and U.S. companies need to engage in business activities in the North.

“If 200 competitive South Korean companies operate in the North, there would be no reason for inter-Korean tensions, and it can actually help push forward the unification process,” he said.

Park, meanwhile, said the North is looking into the option of developing a ski resort near the 768 meter high Masik pass near the city of Wonsan on the east coast.

He said that United Front Department of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea mentioned the development plan in December and claimed that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un gave the order personally. Kim has been running the country since the sudden death of his father Kim Jong-il in Dec. 2011.

“The North seems to want to develop a small ski resort first and build this up depending on demand,” he said.

The businessman added that Pyongyang wanted to transform Wonsan into a special tourist zone and is interested in using a military airfield near the city to accept civilian flights carrying tourists. Wonsan is famous for its beaches and if a ski resort is opened on Masik pass, it could attract tourists year round.

Park claimed Kim Jong-un has gained confidence in managing the country in the last year and may move to increase investments into the tourism sector.


Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) update

Friday, July 20th, 2012

According to the Asahi Shimbun:

Currently 300 undergraduate and 70 graduate students are enrolled in the PUST’s three departments: electronic and computer engineering; international finance and management; and agriculture and life sciences. Thirty computers, with access to the Internet, are available for graduate students. At least some of those computers seem to be made by Chinese subsidiaries of South Korean electronics giants Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc., he said.

The goal of the university is to nurture personnel capable of working in the international community.

About 50 professors from Europe, the United States, Australia and elsewhere give lectures in English, with the content of the courses left to their discretion, Park said, and lectures on economics include finance, investment, insurance, equity and trade in Europe and the United States.

The students at PUST are selected from among those who have studied at least two years at the country’s top universities, including Kim Il Sung University and Kim Chaek University of Technology. Students live in a dormitory, and tuition and living expenses are free. Each student is given a monthly allowance of $10 (790 yen) in card form, which they can use to purchase daily commodities and school supplies at a campus store.

When a large number of the country’s students were recruited for construction work and other projects in preparation for the 100th anniversary in April of the birth of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il Sung, PUST students received special exemptions.

In September the university plans to send the first three students to study at a British university.

The story also reports “a business school in Pyongyang founded by a Swiss investor is proving popular among bureaucrats and corporate workers,” but I heard as recently as last week that this endeavor has not been operational for a few years.

Read previous articles on PUST here.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea opening up to education on capitalism
Asahi Shimbun
Akira Nakano


Some interesting recent publications and articles

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

1. “Relying on One’s Strength: The Growth of the Private Agriculture in Borderland Areas of North Korea”
Andrei Lankov,Seok Hyang Kim ,Inok Kwa
PDF of the article here 

The two decades which followed the collapse of the communist bloc were a period of dramatic social and economic transformation in North Korea. The 1990-2010 period was a time when market economy re-emerged in North Korea where once could be seen as the most perfect example of the Stalinist economic model. The present article deals with one of the major areas of socioeconomic change which, so far, has not been the focus of previous studies. The topic is about the growth of private agricultural activities in North Korea after 1990. This growth constitutes a significant phenomenon which has important social consequences and also is important from a purely economic point of view: it seems that the spontaneous growth of private plots played a major role in the recent improvement of the food situation inside North Korea.


3. Korea Sharing Movement anti-malarial program (Via Cancor)
Read a PDF of on the project here


4. What is it like to teach at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST)?
Find out from one instructor here. More on PUST here.



PUST update

Monday, November 1st, 2010

Richard Stone writes in 38 North:

The curtain is rising on a bold experiment to engage North Korea’s academic community—and possibly shape the country’s future. On October 25, 2010, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, or PUST, opened its doors to 160 elite North Korean students. By improving North Korea’s technical prowess, PUST might nudge the country’s tattered manufacturing-based economy toward an information-based economy.

“Our purpose is the globalization of North Korea through PUST. In that way, their economy can gradually develop, which will make it easier for reunification later,” says Park Chan Mo, former president of the National Research Foundation of Korea and one of four founding committee chairs of PUST. More initiatives are in store after South-North relations improve, says Oh Hae Seok, Special Adviser on Information Technology (IT) to South Korea’s President Lee Myung Bak. “The South is ready to assist the North by building an IT infrastructure and supporting IT education, as long as the North opens its door,” he says.

PUST will test North Korea’s appetite for engagement. Perhaps most discomfiting to the North is that the new university is led and bankrolled by devout Christians. The North Korean government espouses atheism and takes a dim view on South Korean evangelists, particularly for their role in an “underground railway” in northeastern China that steers defectors to safe havens. PUST leaders and professors, primarily ethnic Koreans, have promised not to proselytize.

PUST’s main mission therefore is to lead North Korea out of a scientific wilderness. The North is light-years behind industrialized nations in many areas of science and technology. It excels in a few spheres. For instance, North Korea is notorious for its skill at reverse-engineering long-range missiles and fashioning crude but workable plutonium devices. Less well known, the North has developed considerable expertise in information technology—and has staked its future on it. “North Korea has chosen IT as the core tool of its economic recovery,” says Park. But it has a poor grasp on how to translate knowledge into money. “Instead of just giving them fish, we will teach them how to catch fish,” Park says.

There are serious risks in giving North Korea a technical assist, according to PUST’s critics. Opinion in South Korea is split on PUST; many people have voiced concerns. The chief worry is that PUST students could feed information or lend newfound expertise to the North Korean military. To minimize these risks, PUST’s curricula have been vetted by government and academic nonproliferation experts.

To proponents, the new venture’s benefits far outweigh the risks. PUST has been promised academic freedom, the likes of which has been virtually unknown in North Korea, including campus-wide internet access. “We hope that PUST will open channels to the outside,” says Nakju Lett Doh, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Korea University in Seoul and member of PUST’s academic committee.

Few people of university age or younger can imagine a world without internet. But it’s rare a North Korean of any age has tasted this forbidden fruit. The government takes infinite care to shield innocent minds from corrosive facts about the Korean War, descriptions of life in modern South Korea, and western notions of freedom of expression, among other things. Instead, the Garden of Juche offers Guang Myung, or Bright Light: an Intranet not connected to the outside world.

When I visited Pyongyang on invitation from the DPRK Academy of Sciences in July 2004, my hosts gave me a tour of the Central Information Agency for Science and Technology’s computing center and showed me the Guang Myung home page, which reminded me of Yahoo. They claimed the system has tens of millions of records, including digital tomes on agriculture and construction as well as the complete writings of Kim Il Sung.

Since then, fiber optic cables have spread Guang Myung to the far corners of the nation. “The main purpose is to disseminate scientific and technological information,” says Lee Choon Geun, chief representative of the Korea-China Science & Technology Cooperation Center in Beijing. On a visit to Pyongyang a few years ago, Lee, an expert on North Korea’s scientific community, witnessed Guang Myung in action, including a live lecture broadcast over the Intranet. At the time, he says, Kim Chaek University of Technology had around 500 Pentium 4’s and 5’s connected to the system. He estimates that nationwide, tens of thousands of computers of all types are now linked in. However, it’s not clear how effective Guang Myung is outside Pyongyang, where clunky routers funnel information to ancient machines—remember 386s and 486s? Another major woe is an unstable electricity supply that regularly fritzes electronics. Lee, who has visited North Korea 15 times, says that when he asks what scientists need most, they request laptops, whose power cord adaptors and batteries can better handle electrical fluctuations.

Indeed, it’s a formidable job to erect an IT infrastructure inside a cocoon. South Korea has lent a hand. With the government’s blessing, private organizations in the South have sent approximately 60,000 IT publications—periodicals and books—to North Korean universities, and IT professors from the South have visited the North for lecturing stints, says Oh. South Korean groups have also helped train North Korean computer scientists in Dandong, China, just across the border from North Korea. The training center had to close earlier this year due to budget cuts, says Lee.

The juche philosophy embraces self-reliant efforts to gather technical information from abroad. North Korean diplomats are one set of eyes and ears. They collect journal articles, textbooks and handbooks, surf the Web and ship any seemingly useful information to Pyongyang, where analysts evaluate it and censors clear it for posting. When sent via internet, information is routed primarily through Silibank in Shenyang in northeastern China. North Korea has also deployed abroad around 500 IT specialists in the European Union and dozens more to China—in Beijing, Dalian, Shanghai, and Shenyang—to acquire knowledge for the motherland. “Through them a lot of information goes to North Korea,” says Park.

Such activity may seem like a packrat cramming its nest with equal portions of usable materials and shiny baubles. But it has paid off in at least one area: software development. “They are developing their own algorithms,” says Doh, an expert on control system theory. Even though North Korea’s programmers are almost completely isolated from international peers, they lag only about 5 to 6 years behind the state of the art in South Korea, Doh says. “That’s not that bad.” The Korean Computing Center and Pyongyang Information Center together have around 450 specialists, and universities and academy institutes have another 1,000 more experts on computer science, says Lee. And all told there are about 1,200 specialized programmers.

The programmers have enjoyed modest commercial success. The state-owned SEK Studios in Pyongyang has done computer animation for films and cartoons for clients abroad. And software developers have produced, among other things, an award-winning computer version of the Asian board game Go. “Their software is strong,” says Park, a specialist on computer graphics and simulation. “They are very capable.”

But the resemblance to IT as we know it ends there. “In North Korea, IT is quite different from what most people think,” says Lee. Most computing efforts these days are focused on computerized numerical control, or CNC: the automation of machine tools to enable a small number of workers to produce standardized goods. “Their main focus is increasing domestic production capacity,” says Lee. North Korea’s CNC revolution is occurring two to three decades after South Korean industries adopted similar technologies. And North Korea is struggling to implement CNC largely because of its difficulties in generating sufficient energy needed to make steel—so its machinery production capacity is a fraction of what it used to be—and it lacks the means to produce sophisticated integrated circuit elements.

Antiquated technology may be the biggest handicap for North Korea’s computer jocks. North Korea “doesn’t have the capacity to make high technology,” says Kim Jong Seon, leader of the inter-Korean cooperation team at the Science and Technology Policy Institute in Seoul. North Korea is thought to have a single clean room for making semiconductors at the 111 Factory in Pyongyang. Built in the 1980s—the Stone Age of this fast-paced field—the photomask production facility is capable of etching 3 micron wide lines in silicon chips. South Korean industry works in nanometer scales. The bottom line, says Kim, is that in high technology, “they have to import everything.”

That’s a challenge, because no country—China included—openly flouts UN sanctions on high-tech exports to North Korea. Any advanced computing equipment entering the country is presumably acquired through its illicit missile trade and disappears into the military complex. North Korea’s civilian computer scientists are left fighting for the scraps. One of only five Ph.D. scientist-defectors now known to be in South Korea, computer scientist Kim Heung Kwang, fled North Korea in 2003 not for political reasons or because he was starving—rather, he hungered to use modern computers.

To help North Korea bolster its budding IT infrastructure and not aid its military, PUST will have to walk a tightrope. School officials have voluntarily cleared curricula with the U.S. government, which has weighed in on details as fine as the name of one of PUST’s first three schools. The School of Biotechnology was renamed the School of Agriculture and Life Sciences because U.S. officials were concerned that biotech studies might be equated to bioweapons studies, says Park. North Korean officials, meanwhile, forbid PUST from launching an MBA program—a degree too tightly associated with U.S. imperialism. “So we call it industrial management,” Park says. “But the contents are similar to those of an MBA.”

Besides cleansing PUST of any weapons-grade information, Park and university representatives are working with the U.S. Commerce Department to win export licenses for advanced computing equipment and scientific instruments not prohibited by dual-use restrictions. Approval is necessary for equipment consisting of 10 percent or more of U.S.-made components. “You can attach foreign-made peripheral devices and reduce U.S. components to less than 10 percent, but that’s a kind of cheating,” Park says. “We want to strictly follow the law.”

This improbable initiative in scientific engagement was a long time in the making. PUST’s chief architect is founding president Kim Chin Kyung, who in 1998 established his first venture in higher education: Yanbian University of Science and Technology in Yanji, the capital of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in northeastern China’s Jilin Province, just across the border from North Korea. A businessman who studied divinity in university, Kim, who goes by his English name James, was accused of being a spy on a visit to North Korea in 1998 and imprisoned there for six weeks. He stuck with YUST, however, and in 2001, North Korean education officials visiting the university stunned Kim by inviting him to establish a similar university in Pyongyang. Kim got a rapturous response when he pitched the idea to YUST’s sponsors.

Progress came in fits and starts. PUST was originally envisioned to open in 2005, but work on the initial 17 buildings of the $35 million, 100-hectare campus in southern Pyongyang’s Rakrang district was completed only last year. North Korean education officials have promised the school academic freedom and internet access. Such startling privileges will be doled out byte by byte. “In the beginning, they are allowing us to do emailing,” says Park. Full internet access is expected to come after PUST earns their keepers’ trust. “To do research, really you have to use the internet. The North Korean government realizes that. Once they know students are not using the internet for something else, it should be allowed,” Park says.

While YUST and PUST may both have ardent-Christian backers and cumbersome acronyms, the atmosphere on the two campuses will be markedly divergent. In Yanji, encounters outside the classroom are common: faculty and students even dine together in a common hall. “YUST professors and students are like one family,” says Park.

In contrast, PUST students and faculty will inhabit two entirely different worlds that only merge in the classroom. The North Korean government handpicked the inaugural class of 100 undergraduates and 60 graduate students, including 40 grads who will study IT. All will study technical English this fall, then in March a wider roster of courses will become available after key professors and equipment arrive on campus. A student leader will shepherd students to and from class to ensure that no lamb goes astray. “There will be no way to teach the gospel,” says Doh.

PUST professors expect to be impressed with the students, selected from Kim Il Sung University and Kim Chaek University of Technology. “These are the most brilliant students in North Korea,” says Doh. PUST plans to ramp up enrolment to 2,000 undergrads and 600 graduate students by 2012. To expose these young, agile minds to a wide range of ideas, PUST plans to fly in a number of visiting professors during the summer terms. They also intend to seek permission for students from other Pyongyang universities to attend the summer sessions. As trust develops, PUST hopes that some of its students will be able to participate in exchange programs and study abroad.

PUST’s success may hinge on the disposition of North Korea’s leader in waiting. Kim Jong Un was tutored privately by a “brilliant” graduate of Université Paris X who chaired the computer science department at Kim Chaek University of Technology before disappearing from public view in the early 1980s, says Kim Heung Kwang, who studied at Kim Chaek before working as a professor at Hamhung Computer College and Hamhung Communist College. After defecting and settling in Seoul, Kim founded North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, a group of university-educated defectors that raises awareness of conditions in North Korea.

According to internal North Korean propaganda, Kim Jong Un oversees a cyberwarfare unit that launched a sophisticated denial-of-service attack on South Korean and U.S. government websites in July 2009. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service blamed the North, which has not commented publicly on the attack. Kim Jong Un’s involvement cannot be confirmed, says Kim Heung Kwang. “But Kim Jong Un is a young person with a background in information technology, so he may desire to transform North Korea from a labor-intense economy to a knowledge economy like South Korea is doing.”

Another big wildcard is North-South relations. After the sinking of the Cheonan, South Korea froze assistance to the North. In the event of a thaw, “the South wants to build a digital complex” in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) or in South Korea similar to the Kaesong industrial complex, says Oh. This, he says, “would be the base camp of North Korea’s IT industry development.” North Korea has reacted lukewarm to the idea: It would prefer that such a venture be based in Pyongyang, says Lee. To facilitate denuclearization and help skilled North Korean workers adapt to market economics, the Science and Technology Policy Institute in Seoul has proposed the establishment of an Inter-Korean Science and Technology Cooperation Center modeled after similar centers established in Kiev and Moscow after the Soviet breakup.

Such projects, if they were to materialize, along with well-trained graduates from PUST, may help pull North Korea’s economy up by its bootstraps. “We are trying to make them more inclined to do business, to make their country wealthier,” says Park. “It will make a big difference once they get a taste of money. That’s the way to open up North Korea.”

Additional information:
1. Here are previous posts about PUST.

2. Here are previous posts about the DPRK’s intranet system, Kwangmyong.

3. Here is a satellite image of PUST.

Read the full story here:
Pyongyang University and NK: Just Do IT!
38 North
Richard Stone


PUST scheduled to open doors this week

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

UPDATE: The New York Times also covers the opening.  According to the article:

In spite of all this, classes in technical English started Monday at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. A fuller curriculum in information technology, business management and agriculture is supposed to get under way in March.

“It’s amazing, and kind of a miracle,” said Park Chan-mo, one of the founders of the school, which was largely financed by contributions from evangelical Christian groups in the United States and South Korea. “Many people were skeptical, but we’re all Christians. We had faith.”

The driving force behind the school was Kim Chin-kyung, an American born in Seoul who founded a university in China in 1992. He made periodic trips from China into North Korea and in 1998 was arrested at his hotel in the capital and thrown into prison, accused of being an agent for the C.I.A.

The relentless interrogations went on for six weeks and almost broke him. “I was ready to die,” he said in a 2001 interview, even writing out a will and bequeathing his organs for transplants and medical study in Pyongyang.

He was finally released, he said, after convincing the authorities that “I was not the kind of person who would spy on them.”

In November 2000, a man appeared in his university office in China — oddly, the same man who had ordered his arrest for espionage in Pyongyang in 1998. But this time he had a proposal from the North Korean government: could he duplicate his Chinese technical university in Pyongyang?

“Doing business with North Korea is not for the faint of heart,” Mr. Kim said on the school’s Web site, “but the effort is ennobling and necessary.”

The first group of 160 undergraduate and master’s students has been chosen by the North Korean government, selected from its top colleges and from the political and military elite. Their tuition, room, board and books are all free, financed by foreign donors and individual sponsors. The plans call for an eventual student body of 2,600 and a faculty of 250, with classes in public health, architecture, engineering and construction.

Sixteen professors from the United States and Europe arrived in Pyongyang over the weekend. For now, no South Korean professors are allowed because of recent political tensions between the Koreas.

It seems an unlikely marriage — the hard-line Communist state and wealthy Christian capitalists — and it remains to be seen how well the match has been made.

North Korea, while reluctant to expose its citizens to the outside world, has been seeking foreign investment for its decrepit educational system. For their part, the evangelicals, who have antagonized the North by encouraging defections and assisting refugees after they cross over, are seeking a foothold inside the churchless state.

North Korea has made a similar bargain before. The Unification Church of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, not only a Christian but staunchly anti-Communist, operates a car factory in Pyongyang, for instance. But the church is allowed to make only cars, not Christians or capitalist converts.

There is no campus chapel at the new university, Dr. Park said, and there is not one in the plans. But neither, for now, are there any official portraits of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, or his father, the late Kim Il-sung, which hang in every school and public building in the North.

The $35 million, 240-acre campus includes a faculty guesthouse and world-class dormitories and classrooms, all of which are said to have running water, power and heat. The school has its own backup generators, but with so little diesel and gasoline available in the North, fuel has to be trucked in from neighboring China.

Classes will be taught in English, and Internet access has been promised to all students. The campus has sirens that go off before rolling electrical blackouts, so work on computers can be saved.

“The Internet will be censored, and we can’t imagine that it won’t be,” said Dr. Park, who has been involved in educational exchanges with the North since 2000. “Even in South Korea things are blocked. I’m sure North Korea has been looking at my e-mails. I keep them businesslike.”

Dr. Park, the former president of the prestigious Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea, said the university project could not have been completed without the approval of the United States government. Officials at the school, eager not to run afoul of international sanctions in place against the North, have even sent its curriculum to the State Department for vetting.

One request from Washington was that the name of the biotechnology course be changed for fear that it might be seen as useful in developing biological weapons, Dr. Park said. So the course title was changed to “Agriculture and Life Sciences.”

The United States government also was also “very sensitive,” Dr. Park said, about young North Korean scientists learning skills that could be used by the military or in developing nuclear weapons. “We can’t be fooled into teaching them those kinds of things.”

Several conservative lawmakers from South Korea called for Seoul, which gave $1 million to the school in 2006, to cut off all support. One legislator, Yoon Sang-hyun, was angered that the North insisted that future economics classes include lessons about juche, or Kim Il-sung’s founding philosophy of self-reliance.

Some critics also have suggested that there must have been heavy payoffs made to the North Korean government to move the project along, but Mr. Kim insisted that no deals had been made.

“Every brick we used, every bit of steel, every bit of equipment, we brought in from China,” Mr. Kim, who was in Pyongyang for the opening, said in an interview in Fortune last year. “I have never brought any cash into North Korea.”

“I have unlimited credit at the Bank of Heaven,” he added.

ORIGINAL POST: According to Yonhap:

The first university founded jointly by South and North Korea is scheduled to open next week in Pyongyang, a school official said Friday.

The project to build Pyongyang University of Science and Technology was launched in 2001 after the two countries’ governments approved a South Korean nonprofit organization to participate in it. The university’s stated aim is to promote reconciliation and prosperity among the Korean people, separated since the 1950-53 Korean war, and “help North Korea develop the necessary economic and intellectual infrastructure to function as a member of the international community,” according to its Web site.

“All the facilities and staff are ready, and we will officially open (next Monday),” said James Chin-kyung Kim, the school’s founding president and co-chairman. Kim, a U.S. citizen, also founded the Yanbian University of Science and Technology in the Chinese city of Yanji, a major Korean-Chinese population center.

“In time for the opening, 17 foreign professors will fly to Pyongyang from Shenyang (on Saturday). These professors come from the U.S. and Europe,” he said.

South Korean staff will also be able to teach, starting next semester, according to the school.

Instruction will be in English, and 160 students have been selected for the school’s undergraduate and master’s degree courses in agriculture, information and communication technology, and industry and management. Forty doctorate-level students began studying with four foreign academics in the summer.

The university plans to increase the number of students to 500 and open more departments to teach architecture, engineering, construction and public health care.

Here are previous posts about PUST including satellite imagery of the facility’s construction.

Read the full story here:
First university founded by two Koreas to open in Pyongyang next week


Pyongyang University of Science and Technology growing

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Google has updated satellite imagery of Pyongyang so there are some interesting developments to point out.  I will spread these out over the next few days, but I thought I would begin with the Pyongyang Univeristy of Science and Technology.

Here is imagery of the university’s construction in reverse chronological order:

January 28, 2009

November 12, 2006

October 30, 2005

August 6, 2005

April 7, 2005

May 11, 2001

If you open all the images in the same browser you can view them as overlays.

Here is the university’s Wikipedia page.

Here is a video on Youtube.

Here are previous posts about PUST.


ROK approves delegation to visit PUST opening

Monday, September 14th, 2009

UPDATE 4:  More on the Leadership of PUST from Houston Business Journal:

A Rice University professor has paved the way for a private university in North Korea.

Malcolm Gillis, the Ervin Kenneth Zingler professor of economics and professor of management, is part of a four-person committee that founded the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which will open next spring.

Members of the committee include founding President James Chin-Kyung Kim; Chan-Mo Park, former president of Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea; and Jung Bae Kim, former president of Korea University.

Gillis, who was president of Rice from 1993 to 2004, said the project goes back to 1997 when he met with the late Kim Dae Jung, then president-elect of South Korea, to engage in peace talks between North and South Korea.

PUST will offer programs for information technology, industry and management, and agriculture studies, with plans to open new schools for architecture, engineering and public health in the near future.

Rice University professor co-founds North Korean university
Houston Business Journal
UPDATE 3: According to Yonhap:

“North Korea is stumping for opening this university,” Kim Jin-kyung, co-president of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, said, returning from a three-day trip to the North Korean capital.

“There are many difficulties, but we are aiming to open the school within this year,” Kim said. He is also president of the Yanbian University of Science and Technology, run with South Korean non-governmental funding, in the Korean autonomous prefecture of Yanbian, northeastern China.

The school seeks to first accept 150 students in the fields of information and communications engineering; agricultural biotechnology and food engineering; and industrial management, he said.

All lectures will be in English, and students will be required to meet the paper-based TOEFL score of 550, Kim said. North Korea has already recruited prospective students among “carefully chosen elites” who studied at top North Korean schools like Kim Il Sung University and Kim Chaek University of Technology, he added.

“North Korea asked us to get the school to have competent faculty members,” he said. “We expect the South Korean government to lend support in the larger context of inter-Korean reconciliation.”

Park Chan-mo, a science and technology advisor to President Lee Myung-bak who attended the completion ceremony with Kim, said Seoul is supportive.

“The fact that (the government) gave permission to the North Korea trip shows it has a will to lend support,” Park said.

The school will be reportedly co-headed by North Korea’s vice education minister, Jon Kuk-man. North Korean media reported the South Korean delegation’s departure earlier Thursday.

UPDATE 2: According to KCNA:

First-Phase Construction of University of Science and Technology Completed

Pyongyang, September 16 (KCNA) — A ceremony for the completion of the first-phase construction of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology was held Wednesday.

Present there were Jon Kuk Man, vice-minister of Education, officials concerned and members of a delegation led by Chin Kyung Kim, founding-president of the university.

Speeches were made there.

After a certificate on nominating the co-managerial president of the university was conveyed to the founding-president, the participants looked round the building of the university completed as the first-phase construction.

UPDATE 1:  CNN published an extensive article on PUST this afternoon.  Read the whole story here (Thanks to AFC).  According to the story:

James Kim, an American businessman turned educator, once sat in the very last place that anyone in the world would wish to be: a cold, dank prison cell in Pyongyang, the godforsaken capital of North Korea.

Kim, who had emigrated from South Korea to the United States in the 1970s, had been a frequent visitor to Pyongyang over the years in pursuit of what, to many, seemed at best a quixotic cause. He wanted to start an international university in Pyongyang, with courses in English, an international faculty, computers, and Internet connections for all the students.

Not only that — in the heart of the world’s most rigidly Communist country, Kim wanted his school to include that training ground for future capitalists: an MBA program.

During one of his trips to the capital in 1998, with North Korea in the midst of a famine that would eventually kill thousands, the state’s secret police arrested Kim.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il didn’t lock up the educator for being crazy. He got it in his head that the oddly persistent American — who at the time, among other things, was helping to feed starving North Koreans with deliveries of food aid from China — was a spy.

So for more than 40 days, Kim languished in a North Korean prison. An evangelical Christian, Kim wrote his last will and testament during those days, not knowing if he’d ever get out.

Which makes where he plans to be in mid-September all the more astonishing. Kim will lead a delegation of 200 dignitaries from around the world to North Korea for the dedication of the first privately funded university ever allowed in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST).

The school will have an international faculty educating, eventually, around 600 graduate students. Kim dreams ultimately of hosting an industrial park around the PUST campus, drawing firms from around the world — a North Korean version, as bizarre as it sounds, of Palo Alto or Boston’s Route 128.

There will be Internet access for all, connecting the students to an outside world that they’ve heretofore been instructed is a hostile and dangerous place. And among the six departments will be a school of industrial management.

“We ended up not calling it an ‘MBA program,'” jokes David Kim (no relation to James), a former Bechtel and Pacific Gas & Electric executive who has relocated to Pyongyang to help set up PUST, “because they [the North Koreans] think it sounds vaguely imperialistic.”

That the North Koreans are permitting this to happen — that they have given James Kim the nod to create his university, just as he intended — is remarkable.

It’s hard for outsiders to understand just how backward, isolated, and impoverished North Korea is. Since the collapse of the Eastern bloc 20 years ago, fewer and fewer North Korean university students study abroad. Allowing PUST to proceed lets a gust of fresh air into a stilted, frightfully isolated environment.

The rest of the story is worth reading here.

ORIGINAL POST: Although the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) has yet to set an opening date, a South Korean delegation will be visiting the DPRK to commemorate the completion of the facility.  According to Yonhap:

South Korea permitted a delegation from a private foundation to visit North Korea this week to celebrate the completion of a science and technology university jointly built with the North, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said Monday.

The ceremony for the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology is scheduled for Wednesday, according to ministry spokesperson Chun Hae-sung. He said the 20-member delegation will make a three-day trip to the North beginning Tuesday.

The delegation includes Kwak Seon-hee, head of the Seoul-based Northeast Asia Foundation for Education and Culture. The foundation was mostly responsible for organizing donations and fundings for the university, the first to be jointly-operated with an organization not based in the North.

The move marks the first time that the Seoul government has approved a non-humanitarian visit to the North since the communist state carried out its second nuclear test in May.

The date of the school’s opening and other administrative affairs, however, have yet to be decided and must be worked out between the North Korean authorities and the foundation.

Kim Jin-kyung, head of the Yanbian University of Science and Technology in China, will serve as president of the university until its official opening, according to ministry officials.

Further information:

1. Here are previous PUST posts.

2. Here is the location of PUST.

3. Here is the PUST Wikipedia page.

4.  There are two PUST web pages.  Here is the firstHere is the second. (Thanks to AFC)

Read the full story here:
Seoul approves N.K. trip to mark completion of tech university