Kimchaek University of Technology, the top college of science and engineering as well as a central higher educational institution of North Korea, is located in Pyongyang, not in Kimchaek.
Colleges and universities in North Korea are classified into two: central and regional. But criteria for the classification differ from those of the South. It’s wrong to assume that those located in the capital are central institutes of higher education, and those housed in provincial cities and towns are regional ones.
Central higher educational institutions as referred to in the North denote “central-grade institutions of higher education founded in Pyongyang and elsewhere in the provinces for the purpose of educating prospective national leaders, engineers and scientists.” Accordingly, colleges and universities located in Pyongyang are not necessarily central institutions of higher education; nor those situated in the provinces are all regional colleges and universities.
Chongjin Mining and Metallurgy College, the only one of its kind not only in the North but in Asia, and Wonsan Agriculture College, the first of its kind in the North, for example, are definitely central colleges, though the former is located in North Hamgyong Province, and the latter in Kangwon Province, respectively. The same applies to Shinuiju Light Industry College located in North Pyongan Province; Sariwon College of Koryo Pharmacy in North Hwanghai Province; and Hamhung Hydrographic and Power College in South Hamgyong Province. Though located in provincial cities, they are all central colleges founded with regional features taken into account.
On the other hand, Pyongyang Machinery College, Pyongyang Agriculture College, Pyongyang Printing Industry College, though all are located in the capital, are classified as regional colleges. Each province or special city under the direct jurisdiction of the central government in the North has two normal and teachers colleges and one arts and physical education colleges, all of which are typical regional ones. Factory, farm and fishing farm colleges attached to industrial entities also belong to the regional category.
What is the central criterion separating central high educational institutions from their regional counterparts? It depends on who administers and manages them. Those administered directly by the Education Ministry are central institutions of higher education; those administered by the Education Department of the People’s Committee of a relevant province or special city placed directly under the jurisdiction of the central government are regional colleges or universities. Needless to say, no regional institutions of higher education are free from Education Ministry guidance; the guidance is only given indirectly through the People’s Committee Education Department of a pertinent province or special city. In an exception, Kim Il Sung University, the most prestigious higher educational institute in the North, is placed under the direct jurisdiction of the cabinet.
Central colleges and universities, wherever they are located, recruit students from across the land, and their graduates are assigned to any agencies, factories, corporations or research institutes in the country. On the other hand, only seniors and graduates from senior high schools in pertinent provinces and special cities are eligible to enter regional institutes of higher education, whose graduates, when given job assignments upon graduation, are confined to offices or factories in their respective administrative areas.
North Korea has quite a few institutes of higher education that are called colleges, entirely unrelated to central and regional colleges, but whose nature and curricula are totally different. The Yalu River College trains espionage agents sent to the South under the jurisdiction of the Reconnaissance Bureau of the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces; Pyongyang College of Technology, also called the State Security Agency Political College, produces prospective leaders of the intelligence agency.
The Automation College, once called Mirim College, is a special college founded for the purpose of turning out manpower needed for waging electronics information warfare, placed under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces. The College of People’s Economics and International Relations College are institutes retraining leading staff of the party headquarters; the College of Communism run by each province or special city is a special educational institute retraining junior leaders of regional chapters of the Workers’ Party.