Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

New economics university opens in Pyongyang. With online courses!

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

By Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein

This is an interesting piece of news, not least given the almost complete lack of concrete economic policy coming out of the 7th Party Congress (aside from the 5-year plan). Two points to note: First, the university will apparently use “e-teaching” which presumably means online courses. Does North Korea have the technological infrastructure to disseminate online teaching on a broader scale? Second, it seems like the university will focus on business and management training rather than national economics per se. IFES reports:

While currently under the most stringent international sanctions imposed following its fourth nuclear test, North Korea opened a new university in Pyongyang focused on nurturing economic experts.

The Choson Sinbo, a pro-North Korean press in Japan, reported on April 28 that the new university held its opening ceremony on April 1, 2016.

‘Pyongyang Economy and Technology University’ (평양경제기술대학 Pyeongyanggyeongjegisuldaehak) is the new name of the already existing ‘Pyongyang Professional School of Statistics’ (Pyeongyangtonggyejeonmunhakgyo), an institution previously established for the same purpose.

According to the news report, the institution established departments and classes accordingly as it aims to train experts on practical technology in economy for factories and companies. The curriculum is said to be practical, comprehensive, and modern, and to emphasize on-site education and research on the current economic situation.

The news report also mentioned that the university has improved its educational conditions and environment, and that it has commenced initiatives to improve the quality of its staff as well as informatization of the practicum for its major subjects.

The university offers a library for e-books and audio-visual classrooms for foreign languages, and it has informatized and databased teaching methods, administration for academic affairs, etc.

Song Sam-Sung, the president of the institution, stated that the university plans to develop a new initiative to distribute e-teaching plans prepared by the university’s employees to professional technical universities throughout the country.

The university first opened in October 1969 as a vocational high school and was developed to become ‘Pyongyang Professional School of Statistics’, which was equivalent to a technical college. It was restructured into a professional-technical university beginning last year.

Full article here:

New Economics University Opened in Pyongyang to Nurture Economics Experts
Institute for Far Eastern Studies
2016-05-09

 

(Update 2016-05-12)

The original article from Choson Sinbo is available here, though you need to go through a very simple registration process to get login details.

The website Tongil News also writes about the school here.

 

(Update 2016-05-18)

I found another article in Korea Today (no. 5, 2016) about online teaching in North Korea. This one is about online courses taught at Kim Il Sung University.

20160518_105952

Photo credits: Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein.

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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.

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Kim Il-sung University newspaper calls for more company autonomy

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

According to Yonhap:

It is important to clarify the authority and roles given to the Cabinet and companies, as giving more autonomy to workers can boost labor efficiency, according to a North Korean college newspaper on Monday.

North Korea’s Cabinet mainly handles the implementation of the North’s economic policies within the state-controlled rationing system.

Companies and workers can take the initiative and show creativity when the authority and role of the Cabinet and companies are clarified, according to an article in the newspaper issued by Kim Il Sung University, a prestigious institution named after the country’s founder.

How well the economy performs depends on how extensively businesses and workers are able to play their roles, the newspaper added.

The article came amid the growth of marketplaces, as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is trying to give autonomy to companies in the North’s special economic zone to some degree, in a bid to prop up the feeble economy.

Last week, North Korea unveiled detailed plans to upgrade its special economic zone in the border city of Rason in a bid to lure foreign investment amid an economic slowdown and a series of U.N. sanctions.

The North said that profits and other proceeds generated in the zone can be repatriated outside North Korea “without restriction,” in what is seen as investment incentives to foreign investors. It also hinted at assuring autonomous operations for firms in the zone.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea needs to split roles of Cabinet, firms: newspaper
Yonhap
2015-11-23

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College reform focuses on development of high-tech field

Friday, September 25th, 2015

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

It appears that North Korea has implemented college reform as part of its recent focus on cultivating skilled workers in the high-tech field. In an article released September 9, 2015 by the Japanese-based Choson Sinbo, Ho Kwang Il, head of the Higher Education Department in North Korea’s Education Committee, commented on the effort to improve higher education. According to Ho, the state is working hard to fulfill the tasks presented by Kim Jong Un on August 30, 2014, when he exhorted the people to “start an education revolution in the new century and turn our country into a country of education and a strong nation of skilled individuals.” Ho stated, “As we match our higher education system to international trends, we are working hard to create more skilled individuals, who are needed in the construction of a strong nation.”

The Higher Education Department has implemented a variety of changes to cultivate these skilled individuals. “We have organized college school systems, programs, and courses; offered new departments, including high-tech studies; and have worked meticulously to draw up a new education code,” Ho explained. In the process they have organized hundreds of departments at dozens of colleges across the country and created dozens of high-technology departments. In some departments, such as those at Kim Il Sung University and Kim Chaek University of Technology, they have further developed higher education systems directly linking master’s and doctorate programs with regular programs.

In addition, Ho highlighted their efforts to unify colleges and convert them into universities. “By organizing regional and specialized universities and enhancing their functions, we have enabled universities to qualitatively develop the skilled individuals needed in each relevant sector and region […] We have raised the overall level of higher education by integrating certain technical colleges into normal colleges and converting others into vocational schools.”

Ho added, “We have established regional universities in several provinces. We organized them by selecting one college well suited for the province as the parent school and integrating several colleges into that school.” He said that in North Hwanghae Province they established Hwangbuk University, while in North Pyongan Province they established Pyongbuk University.

“We are promoting certain colleges to the level of specialized universities and working to unify colleges centering around universities and specialized universities,” he explained. The result is that “besides Pyongyang University of Architecture and Wonsan University of Agriculture, which already existed, Pyongyang University of Machinery, Pyongyang Jang Chol Gu University of Commerce, Pyongyang University of Railroad Engineering, and Han Duk Su Pyongyang Light Industry University have been newly formed.”

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German NGO establishing school for deaf

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

According to the Associated Press:

In a country with zero kindergartens specifically for the deaf, Robert Grund wants to help establish the first — just a small suite of rooms for perhaps a couple dozen kids, in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, a city of roughly 2.5 million.

It’s a small step, but Grund, the Pyongyang representative of the World Federation of the Deaf and the city’s only full-time deaf foreign resident, sees it as part of a larger push to end isolation for the deaf here by helping them be heard, involved and empowered in projects about them.

He appears to be making progress.

Over the past few years, North Korean officials have grown more receptive to helping the disabled. Events have become more frequent and get a higher profile in the state-run media, while more cultural exchanges are being allowed abroad. Recent media stories played up a new all-deaf soccer team. The North last month held high-profile events to mark Disabled Persons Day.

The kindergarten project is also coming together.

Grund says officials have approved a location for the facility, several rooms in a now under-used nursery building, and appear keen on opening it in time for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country’s ruling party on Oct. 10.

The kindergarten itself will be wholly paid for and funded by TOGETHER-Hamhung, a German non-profit Disabled Persons Organization.

“Nobody knows how many kids will come,” Grund said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “If necessary, we can assign more rooms for children.”

The plan is to accept children from infancy on up until they are old enough to attend regular deaf schools. Grund hopes access will be based solely on need, but he is not sure whether the government will instead decide who gets to go.

“From our point of view, every deaf child has access,” he said. “Since this country strongly advertises the right of children to be in nurseries and kindergartens, it is probably not so much a matter of choosing, but a matter of information and spreading the word so that the families get to know the new option and dare to bring their deaf child, overcoming the traditional hiding in the family.”

___

To be deaf in North Korea is to endure a level of isolation that is hard to imagine.

For most of his childhood, Ri Jong Hyok was a shut in.

While his father went out to do construction work, he stayed at home in Pyongyang helping his mother make tofu. He didn’t go to school. He had no friends and, with no one to teach him sign language, essentially no way to communicate with them even if he did.

“I had never seen sign language before I came here,” Ri told the AP through a sign language interpreter during a visit to the country’s largest school for the deaf, in Songchon, outside of Pyongyang, last year.

Ri is lucky to have found the school.

He wants to be a barber, and the school has a classroom where the students practice cutting each other’s hair, with barber’s chairs and pictures of various hairstyles on the walls. With few other trades open to the deaf, the most common jobs are barber or tailor for men, and hairstylist or seamstress for women.

Of the eight schools for older deaf children in North Korea, none are located in Pyongyang, though statistically the deaf population in a city the same size in a developing country would likely be in the tens of thousands.

There are roughly 300,000 deaf people in all of North Korea, according to official estimates.

But while about 10-20 percent of deaf children in developing countries are able to study in deaf schools, according to the World Federation of the Deaf, that rate is just 2 percent in North Korea, said an aid worker who spoke on condition of anonymity because of worries that ongoing projects might be hurt.

North Korean officials dispute that estimate.

Ro Kyong Su, director of the Korean Economic and Cultural Center for the Deaf and Blind, said mainstream public schools or other special-needs facilities currently accommodate most deaf or hearing-impaired students. By his calculations, there are about 6,000 school-age deaf children who need to be in schools that are specifically for the deaf. He said about half already are, and the number is rising.

“The other half will soon be able to go to school. We aren’t looking at a five-year or 10-year plan. It will be much sooner than that,” he said.

Officials involved in projects for the deaf acknowledge an outdated grasp of the size of the deaf community.

A major problem continues to be getting access to and diagnosing pre-school children, many of whom are shut in at home with families who have little awareness of hearing disabilities or the resources that might be available to them.

The government’s figures are also based on an old, somewhat ambiguous survey. Underreporting of disabilities is common, both because of a sense of shame and a fear among parents that, if reported, their children might be sent off to distant institutions, pigeonholed and channeled into an educational or career path with few opportunities. Nevertheless, a new survey is underway, which Ro believes will provide a more reliable picture.

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Grund, possibly more than anyone else, has helped influence the change in attitudes toward the deaf here.

As a teenager, he watched a TV report in his native Germany suggesting there were “practically no” deaf people in North Korea. A fourth-generation deaf child in his own family, an incredulous Grund decided to go see for himself. Grund, now 30, has since devoted himself to improving life for deaf North Koreans. He works with the bureaucracy and with the deaf to train them to plan and lead their own projects.

Though funding is always a struggle, he has received support from Catholic and Protestant groups and private donors, mainly in Germany. The biggest individual contribution came from Michael Spavor, of Paektu Cultural Exchange and the organizer of former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s visit last year, who donated $20,000 to the deaf kindergarten project.

Grund’s mantra for empowering the deaf, “nothing about us without us,” often rankles with even the most sympathetic North Korean officials. In the country’s top-down system, hearing bureaucrats who often don’t understand the deaf experience are used to making decisions on their behalf.

Grund says he will continue to cooperate with deaf North Koreans — he currently works closely with about 20, up from just two in 2013 — to help them join mainstream society.

One priority is more schools for occupational training and educational opportunities for the deaf. Another is teaching more deaf children — and interpreters — how to sign. He also wants sign language interpretation made available at workplaces and meetings. But most of all, he wants to see signing on national television broadcasts, if just to raise awareness in the hearing community that the deaf exist and need not be hidden away.

“That has been my oldest dream, from the time I first came here,” he said.

Read the full story here:
German attempts to break down barriers for deaf in N. Korea
Associated Press
Eric Talmadge
2015-7-8

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Kim Jong Un visits Automation Institute of Kim Chaek University of Technology

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015

Automation-Institute-Kimchaek-KCNA

Automation-institute-Google-Earth

Top: Official KCNA photo of the new Automation Institute of Kim Chaek University of Technology Bottom: Google Earth satellite image of the facility in the new Mirae Scientist Street

According to Google Earth imagery, construction on the project started around September 2014.

According to KCNA:

Kim Jong Un Gives Field Guidance to Automation Institute of Kim Chaek University of Technology

Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, gave field guidance to a newly-built building of the Automation Institute of Kim Chaek University of Technology.

He was greeted on the spot by Hwang Pyong So, Kim Jong Gwan, other officials of the relevant field and officers of the KPA units taking part in the construction.

He had promised to make sure that a new building was constructed for the Automation Institute when he was acquainting himself with the work of the institute in April last year.

He chose the site of the institute on the picturesque bank of the River Taedong and guided its layout several times. He not only saw to it that a powerful construction force of the People’s Army was formed for the project but personally settled the issues arising in it.

Enjoying a bird’s-eye view of the institute, he said the institute was successfully built to match the environment around it as required by the layout ratified by the party.

He went round several places of the institute to learn about its construction in detail.

He was pleased that the institute was built in such a way as to visually showcase the party’s policies of attaching importance to science and technology and talents and provide its researchers with ample conditions for their scientific researches and living.

He told officials to fully provide the institute with reading rooms, e-library and video system so that they might help the researchers in their work and study.

Noting that a country can prosper only when a revolution is carried out with a proper view and stand on science and talents, he underscored the need to provide the institute with modern equipment and vehicles necessary for its operation as it was built into a cutting-edge scientific research center. He was so kind as to promise to ensure that this matter would be settled by the party.

He highly praised the soldier builders of KPA units 407 and 101 for fully displaying the revolutionary soldier spirit in the construction of the institute.

He expressed belief that the researchers of the institute would creditably perform their mission and duty as standard-bearers in breaking through the cutting-edge science and technology by carrying forward the tradition in which they have contributed to the cause of the party with their valuable scientific and technological achievements and thus give fuller play to their patriotic enthusiasm and devotion to living up to the expectations of the party, the country and its people.

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Sci-Tech Complex on Ssuk Islet, Pyongyang

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

UPDATE 9 (2015-10-28): KCNA reveals new photos of the completed Sci-Tech Complex:

 Sci-Tech-2015-10-28-KCNA

Click image to see larger version.

You can read more here.

UPDATE 8 (2015-8-12): KCNA reports a few more details on the functions/information of the complex:

Preparations for Running Sci-Tech Complex in DPRK
Pyongyang, August 12, 2015 17:23 KST (KCNA) — The Central Information Agency for Science and Technology in the DPRK has pushed ahead with the preparations for running the Sci-Tech Complex, which is now under construction in Pyongyang.

The Agency concentrated its efforts on developing various kinds of service programs on a higher level. The programs include information retrieval system, database management system, print system and translation system.

It is also conducting at the final stage the work to synthesize and systematize a large amount of data.

Meanwhile, more than 1 000 multimedia pieces and scores of diagrams were produced.

UPDATE 7 (2015-7-10): New Google Earth imagery of the construction site reveals additional details of the project:

 Sci-Tec-Instutite-2015-5-20

UPDATE 6 (2015-6-25): Google has uploaded a new image of the Sci-Tech Complex. The image is dated 2015-4-28. You can now see the distinctive “atom” shape the building will achieve:

 Sci-tech-complex-2015-4-28

UPDATE 5 (2015-4-4): The Pyongyang Times has published a new article on the Sci-Tech Complex:

Sci-tech complex construction goes full steam ahead

A sci-tech complex is being built on Ssuk Islet in the Taedong River meandering through the middle of Pyongyang.

The complex is almost equal to the Grand People’s Study House in both total area and height.

The Grand People’s Study House is a Korean-style building with an area of 100 000 square metres. It was completed in 1982 in a year and nine months after its groundbreaking.

It contributed greatly to making the whole society intellectual and developing the country’s science and technology.

The new centre is a palace of learning for all people as well as scientists and technicians. It is intended for making all people well-versed in science and technology. It will also serve as a centre for disseminating cutting-edge science and tech-nology across the country.

Latest architectural technologies are employed intensively to the construction.

A green building, the exterior is designed in the form of a large atomic structure symbolic of the world of science to make viewers feel at a glance that it is an information centre of science and technology.

Several flower-patterned outdoor exhibition grounds, study places, a fountain park and a science and technology tower will be built around the main building.

In the central hall that reaches up to the fourth floor will be installed a model of a carrier rocket of artificial earth satellite.

On every floor will be arranged e-reading rooms for professionals, where they can have access to any information in various fields, as befits a general e-library.

The layout includes sectoral sci-tech exhibition halls, online lecture room, room for the show of science film, local and foreign technological information exchange room for joint research and exchange and hall for presentations of scientific and technological achievements and workshops.

Also arranged in the complex will be children’s dream hall for helping them acquire scientific principles and cultivate a web of fantasy, basic knowledge application hall for schoolchildren and halls showing the history of the development of science and technology in the country.

It will be furnished with facilities to transmit information needed for sci-tech information rooms throughout the country.

A several-kilometre-long embankment will be built around the island to prevent flood water. Road extending more than four kilometres will be laid in the compound and the bridge linking the island to Chungsong Bridge will be rebuilt into a new three-way bridge branching into the island.

A trolley bus line is to be built, forming a loop line from Yokjon Street, via Mirae Scientists Street and Chungsong Bridge, to the island.

Tens of thousands of tall trees and flowering shrubs are planned to be planted on the island to landscape the surroundings of the complex and new species of turf over a large area will add to the beautiful scenery of the island.

It is a gigantic construction project with a huge workload.

Soldier builders engaged in the construction are now stepping up the project as scheduled to create a new Pyongyang spirit and Pyongyang speed in the “all-at-once” spirit of the Korean People’s Army of transforming mountains and rivers not in a decade but in a year.

After finishing the excavation for the foundations, the most difficult task, in the biting cold of midwinter they are pushing ahead with the concrete work for the foundations underground and the first floor.

The construction of a modern 500-capacity tower hotel, bridge leading to the island and the trolley bus line is being pushed in a three-dimensional way.

The builders in charge of the bridge are pushing forward with the project as planned by applying advanced construction methods to the building of cofferdam and excavation for the foundations of piers.

Civil servants cleared the site over several thousand square metres and planted over 3 000 trees and flowering shrubs in 15 species.

UPDATE 4 (2015-3-20): According to Radio Free Asia:

North Korea is building a science and technology facility on an unpopulated island in the capital Pyongyang to store digital information obtained in part by hacking foreign websites to help scientists and other professionals access outside know-how, sources from the country said.

“North Korea is building Science and Technology Hall, a massive information and communication service center for scientists, technicians and teachers who can’t access the internet,” someone who works for an educational institution told RFA’s Korean Service.

“If Science and Technology Hall is completed, they can see digital materials from all parts of the world such as international technical development trends and [information about] military, telecommunications and satellites,” the source said.

The facility, which is being built on Pyongyang’s Ssuk Island, will disseminate information to scientists and technicians via the country’s intranet, he said.

It will be connected to major universities in Pyongyang as well as research centers and laboratories in leading companies through a dedicated line, he said.

Construction has already started on the facility, which will collect and organize both domestic and global data, on Ssuk Island,” the Chosun Shinbo, the journal of the Chongryon (General Association of North Korean Residents in Japan), which represents the position of the North Korean regime, reported in January.

UPDATE 3 (2015-2-27):  Kim Jong-un has made a second visit to Ssuk Islet to guide construction of the “Sci-Tech Complex”.

sci-tech-overview

According to Rodong Sinmun:

The complex should serve as a seat of learning where not only scientists and technicians but also people from all walks of life can have an ample opportunity of learning and a center for disseminating latest science and technology throughout the country, he said, calling for constructing it to be impeccable in terms of architectural beauty and practical use.

He gave an instruction to build a hotel capable of accommodating 500 people which can match well its surrounding environment so that it may provide best convenience to visitors.

He called for pushing ahead with the construction of the complex and preparations for its operation simultaneously.He underscored the need to meticulously organize the work for building a strong latest science and technology database, supplying equipment and apparatuses necessary for e-library service at the highest level, establishing a network between the complex and scientific and technological knowledge dissemination rooms across the country and assigning scientists, experts and service workers.

He underlined the need to successfully undertake the embankment project on Ssuk Islet where the complex is located and effectively arrange environment around it including afforestation and greening.

He praised commanding officers and soldiers of KPA Unit 963 for contriving and introducing an innovative construction method and pushing ahead with the project in a bold way.

He said every sector and unit should render sincere material and moral assistance to the construction of the complex so that it may be pushed forward as a project involving the entire Party, the whole country and all people.

He was so kind as to solve all problems arising in the construction on the spot.

That last sentence I found particularly humorous.

UPDATE 2 (2015-2-1): The “scientific and technological study center” seems to have been re-designed over the last few months. Although construction on the old design had begun, the shape of the facility seems to have changed (was this a consequence of Kim Jong-un’s visit to the facility last year?):

Ssuk-islet-center-2014-7-3

Ssuk-islet-center-2014-9-21

Ssuk-islet-center-2014-10-26

Ssuk-islet-center-2015-1-14

(Image Dates: 2014-7-3, 2014-9-21, 2014-10-26, 2015-1-14)

UPDATE 1 (2015-1-9): According to the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES):

The Choson Sinbo, pro-North Korean newspaper in Japan, reported on January 10, 2015 that a “Science and Technology Hall” is under construction on the Ssuk Islet on Pyongyang’s Taedong River. The hall is reported to serve as a “multi-functional technological service base which will conserve and maintain digitalized data of science and technological achievements made by mankind, and facilitate information sharing and exchanges through a network system.”

The newspaper stated, “The Republic with the national strategy to achieve economic revitalization through science and technology is emphasizing the need for informatization of educational materials in order to foster professionals in science and technological sector.” In also stressed, “In the Kim Jong Un Era, this project is under promotion to advance to the next level.”

Last June, Kim Jong Un visited the Ssuk Islet to provide field guidance for the “Ssuk Islet development project.” During the visit, Kim proclaimed, “The demand for scientific and technological knowledge sharing is increasing day by day,” and added, “Our Party [Workers’ Party of Korea] has decided to develop Science and Technology Hall in the Ssuk Islet to address the demands of the people.” According to the newspaper, the islet, which is situated at the gateway to Pyongyang, will be equipped with indoor and outdoor exhibition space and will “transform the scenery of the Taedong River.”

Last year, the faculty residence for the Kim Chaek University of Technology was completed (two, 46-story apartment buildings) on the riverside of the Taedong River. This high-rise, which looks afloat on the Taedong River, will be at the center of the currently-under-construction “Mirae [Future] Scientists Street.” This street will house various residential and public service buildings.

In particular, the newspaper claimed, “The economic trials suffered from the end of the 20th century with the blockade and sanctions from our adversaries has impeded the advancement of the information sector. Hence, the informatization of educational resources is one of the fastest measures to ensure the best conditions and environment for education.” It conveyed the Science and Technology Hall development in the Ssuk Islet will contribute to the efforts toward the “informatization of educational resources.”

It further elaborated, “The most pragmatic approach to meet the demand for knowledge dissemination is not to distribute compulsory literatures, teaching materials, and experimental equipment for every field and units which will require tremendous effort in terms of funds, materials and time.” Instead, the article stipulated that the more rational choice would be to “create a state-level system that can provide necessary information in digitalized data and share that information to the people.”

This can be interpreted as one of North Korea’s efforts to revitalize the economy through science and technology.

ORIGINAL POST (2014-6-3):

Sci-tech-complex-2014-1-27

Sci-tech-complex-2014-4-13

Imagery on Google Earth indicates the construction work on Ssuk Islet in Pyongyang began between 2014-1-27 (Top) and 2014-4-13 (Bottom)

On June 2, 2014, Rodong Sinmun/KCNA announced that Kim Jong-un visited Ssuk Islet in Pyongyang and “called for turning the islet associated with the feats of President Kim Il Sung into the one for scientific and technological study center.”

As shown in the satellite images above, construction on the new center had begun before Kim Jong-un made his visit.

KCNA goes on to describe aspects of the new center:

Saying that demand for the dissemination of science and technology is increasing as the day goes by, Kim Jong Un noted that the Party determined to build a modern scientific and technological study center on the islet to meet the requirements of the people.

The center to be built on the islet will function not only as a comprehensive data base for scientific and technological achievements made by mankind but also as a multi-purpose scientific and technological service center, which makes it possible to use all data and share and exchange information through a network any time, he noted.

He instructed officials to build the center at the highest level in the aspects of architectural beauty, formative art and architectural contents so that it may appear a building of national treasure and fashionable and world-class one.

Feasting his eyes on both banks of the River Taedong, he said the site was a very good place and the center to be built on the islet would serve as another springboard from which the country would surpass the world’s level. He added he felt pleased to foresee the center.

Noting that the scientific and technological study center to be built on the islet is another gift of the WPK for the people, he specified measures for designing, construction and the supply of building materials, etc.

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ROK to resume training of DPRK doctors

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

According to Yonhap:

South Korea said Wednesday it will resume a program to support North Korean medical doctors’ training in Germany.

The move, the first of its kind in seven years, is in line with the Park Geun-hye administration’s push for expanding humanitarian aid for the impoverished neighbor.

The unification ministry plans to provide a North Korea-Germany group with 90 million won (US$83,000) from the inter-Korean cooperation fund. It will be delivered through the (South) Korea Foundation for International Healthcare.

In 2001, the North Korea-Germany Medical Association launched a project to help train the communist nation’s doctors. A number of North Korean doctors were invited to Germany to learn the latest medical techniques for several months at local hospitals.

South Korea offered funds for the program in 2007 and 2008, but cut the assistance amid worsened relations with Pyongyang.

Read the full story here:
S. Korea to support N. Korean doctors’ training in Germany
Yonhap
2015-1-28

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Rising prestige of Pyongyang General University of Architecture

Friday, December 5th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

The status of the Pyongyang General University of Architecture is on the rise in the Kim Jong Un era. North Korea has been paying particular attention to the university, in order to attribute this effort as the achievements of Kim Jong Un. Since Kim Jong Un’s ascension to power, several large-scale buildings have been constructed and are being propagated as a symbol of the new advancement of his regime.

On November 26, 2014, the Rodong Sinmun (the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Korea) praised the Pyongyang General University of Architecture, calling it an “outpost for the construction of a powerful civilization,” and covered nearly the entire fourth page with articles relating to the school’s history, education, and research achievements.

According to the Rodong Sinmun, the Pyongyang General University of Architecture is responsible for completing over two hundred architectural design plans, including the housing complex for the scientists working on North Korea’s satellite program. The university is renowned in North Korea for its unprecedented accomplishments in the research and manufacturing of state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, which it argues were possible “thanks to” the First Chairman Kim Jong Un.

Specifically, back in 2013, Kim Jong Un agreed to act as the university’s honorary president. The newspaper emphasized the great strides made under his leadership.

Kim Jong Un visited the university in 2013 and explained, “After contemplating over which university to make field guidance to, I decided to come to the Pyongyang General University of Architecture because of its prominence and importance in building a highly civilized socialist society.”

The Pyongyang General University of Architecture is unique in that it is the only university that has First Chairman Kim as its honorary president, indicating his great interest in the field of architecture.

The university, which was founded in October 1953 as the University of Construction, had its name changed to the University of Architecture and Building Materials in 1970, and then to the Pyongyang University of Architecture and Building Materials in 1997. The university has seen a sharp rise in its status since the start of the Kim Jong Un regime.

The university had its status elevated from a college to a full-fledged university in November 2010, directly after Kim Jong Un formally appeared as the successor to the Kim Jong Il regime. The university, originally named as “The Pyongyang University of Architecture and Building Materials,” received its current name from First Chairman Kim Jong Un in December 2012.

Alongside the change in status of the university, the status of its graduates, including Ma Won Chun, the Director of the National Defense Commission (NDC) Design Department, have also increased accordingly.

Previously, on November 18th, the Rodong Sinmun enumerated the major large-scale architectural projects completed during the first three years of the Kim Jong Un regime and attributed the successes to have resulted from Kim’s love of the people.

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PUST holds second graduation ceremony

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

PUST-Google-Earth-2014-11-25

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).

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