Archive for the ‘Library’ Category

DPRK has e-books

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

According to the Korea Times:

North Korea, the planet’s deepest information void, appears to be dabbling with electronic books (e-books), a South Korean activist claimed Thursday.

It’s questionable how much an ecosystem for e-books would be relevant to readers living in perhaps the most censored country in the world.

But according to Free North Korea Radio’s Kim Seong-min, North Koreans have choices beyond government propaganda books to read on their computers, including translations of Western classics such as Shakespeare’s plays, “The Iliad,” “Don Quixote,” “ Jane Eyre,” “ Les Miserables” and even “Gone With The Wind.”

“North Korea will have less complications surrounding copyright issues compared to the South, and with the government pushing the project directly, the country seems to have acquired a wealth of e-book content over a relatively short period of time,” Kim told Yonhap News.

Kim revealed “Electronic Library Mirae (Future) 2.0,” North Korea’s e-book computer program he claimed to have acquired from one of his foreign sources.

When run on Microsoft Windows, Mirae 2.0 opens a page that resembles a conventional library search site, and provides access to the electronic versions of about 1,500 books and 350,000 kinds of other documents.

The books include a wealth of non-fictions work, mostly on political theories and history, but also a variety of literature, song collections, and educational content such as dictionaries and books of facts.

The e-book collection of literature contains some contemporary North Korean work that hasn’t been previously introduced to the South, Kim said.

Users of Mirae 2.0 can search for e-books by title or content.

They can even use its voice recognition system by clicking the “read” tab at the top of the screen, with the computer responding with a recorded female voice that seems “natural” by North Korean standards, Kim said.

Read the full article here:
North Korea has electronic books
Korea Times
Kim Tong-hyung
2/8/2010

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Goethe Institute opens-closes library in Pyongyang

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

UPDATE: In 2004 Germany’s Goethe Institut opened a reading room in Pyongyang (see Choson Sinbo article below). This week it was closed. According to Deutsch Welle:

After five and a half years in operation, the Goethe-Institut in North Korea has said it will close its reading room in the capital city of Pyongyang due to censorship concerns.

The institute, a non-profit organization that promotes the study of German language and culture in 91 countries, opened the reading room in June 2004. It was the first and only Western cultural institution to establish itself in the communist country.

Raimund Woerdemann, director of the Goethe-Institut in Seoul, told Deutsche Welle that, contrary to an agreement made with the North Korean government, access to the center was often hindered.

“The building in which the reading room was located was often locked from the front,” he said. “There was a permanent construction site in front of the back entrance: not a welcoming situation.”

To his knowledge, there has never been an Internet connection in the Pyongyang center, said Woerdemann, and attempts to establish an Intranet connection with other North Korean educational institutions were interrupted on multiple occasions.

The reading room is slated to close in summer 2010. Woerdemann added, however, the Goethe-Institut would make an effort to maintain positive relations with North Korea through participation in the North Korean-German Friendship Society, the Committee for Cultural Relations Abroad and other partnerships.

Criticism from Berlin

The decision to close the reading room has met with strong criticism from the German parliament. Phillip Missfelder, parliamentary foreign policy spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU issued a statement Wednesday, calling the closure “a bitter experience and a big disappointment for everyone who has stood up against resistance to cultural exchange and for the gradual opening of communist North Korea.”

The move represented “the end of an important aspect of German foreign policy in the areas of culture and education, which was a ray of light in the darkness of the repressive, totalitarian government in North Korea.”

In the statement, Missfelder said the CDU parliamentary group takes the closure “very seriously” and would make every effort to reverse the decision.

The center in Pyongyang was founded with the aim of reducing the information deficit in the country, offering unrestricted access to the Internet and free press, networking with South Korea and other countries, and promoting literature.

The Pyongyang reading room has been removed from the Goethe Institute’s web page, although not all of the links have been removed.

The reading room was located near Tae Mun and the DPRK’s Ministry of Culture in Pyongyang here.

UPDATE 1: According to Korea.net, the Goethe Institut plans to expand Pyongyang reading room:

On the sidelines of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) conference last week, a German cultural institution reaffirmed its commitment to promote freedom and democracy in North Korea.

The Goethe Institute, an NGO sponsoring German language and culture worldwide, said it is ready to expand its collection of media resources in North Korea.

The institute opened a reading room in Pyongyang in 2004 where North Koreans can freely access a variety of German media, including books, newspapers, and music. The content is completely uncensored and accessible to all North Koreans. That was the condition under which Goethe Institute agreed to open the reading room, said Jurgen Keil, director of the Goethe Institute in Seoul.

“The reading room has been received very positively by North Koreans. We hope that it can contribute to normalizing North Korea’s relations to the outside world,” Keil said.

The efforts mirror a similar German diplomatic strategy in the 1970s when then West German Chancellor Willy Brandt pursued a policy of “Change through Rapprochement” of easing ties with East Germany through a series of reconciliatory measures.

Former President Kim Dae-jung made reference to this strategy when he formulated the South Korean “Sunshine Policy.”

Claudia Lux, IFLA president-elect, stressed that “knowledge is always a step toward freedom.”

Keil added that many North Koreans can speak German. Until German reunification in 1989, a great number of North Koreans were living and working in East Germany.

North Korea was eager to establish the reading room in order to boost its international diplomatic profile, even though the content available there undercuts the strict censorship imposed by the country.

The reading room in Pyongyang currently holds 4,000 items. Keil said it plans to gradually increase the number to 8,000 in the coming years.

ORIGINAL POST: From the Choson Sinbo (August 14, 2004):

A library of German science books was opened in central Pyongyang on June 2, as the first institution where people can freely read foreign books.

The library was opened in cooperation between Pyongyang’s DPRK-Germany Friendship Association and Germany’s Goethe Institute.

The library has 4,000 scientific books in natural and social sciences and leading German newspapers and magazines. In addition, the library has various kinds of movie tapes, music CDs and cassette tapes and audiovisual education aids for German language study.

It is the first time that the DPRK has opened a library of scientific books of a specific Western country.

An official concerned with the library said that the institute aims at introducing advanced science and technology of Western countries and at promoting mutual understanding between the DPRK and Germany by spreading Germany’s scientific books in the DPRK.

The library introduces German books to libraries of domestic universities and research institutes while allowing people to freely read German books, newspapers and magazines. It lends books to users.

Accepting users’ requests the library orders books from the Goethe Institute, a nongovernmental cultural organization of Germany. Pyongyang’s counterpart offers requested books to the library free of charge.

The library has plenty of natural science books, such as books of medical science, information technology, geology, physics, architecture, chemistry and biology. In addition to natural science books, there are books of German literature, art, philosophy and books of social science including law and history.

According to an official concerned, main users of the library are university students, researchers and scholars.

Officials said that a delegation of the Goethe Institute plans to visit Pyongyang in September to provide 4,000 more books to the library. The Goethe Institute also plans a training course for librarians to staff the library.

Kim Mun Ik, 57, an official of the Association of External Cultural Liaison, said, “The DPRK is not an ‘exclusive country.’ The library is a clear indication that we have been open to the outside, receiving foreign things as far as these are useful for us and now we are making every effort to develop relations with foreign countries, even with Western countries.”

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North Korea Google Earth

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

North Korea Uncovered v.16
Download it here

laurent-kabila.jpg

The most recent version of North Korea Uncovered (North Korea Google Earth) has been published.  Since being launched, this project has been continuously expanded and to date has been downloaded over 32,000 times.

Pictured to the left is a statue of Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  This statue, as well as many others identified in this version of the project, was built by the North Koreans. According to a visitor:

From the neck down, the Kabila monument looks strangely like Kim Jong Il: baggy uniform, creased pants, the raised arm, a little book in his left hand. From the neck up, the statue is the thick, grim bald mug of Laurent Kabila (his son Joseph is the current president). “The body was made in North Korea,” explains my driver Felix. In other words, the body is Kim Jong Il’s, but with a fat, scowling Kabila head simply welded on.

This is particularly interesting because there are no known pictures of a Kim Jong il statue.  The only KJI statue that is reported to exist is in front of the National Security Agency in Pyongyang.  If a Kim Jong il statue does in fact exist, it might look something like this.

Thanks again to the anonymous contributors, readers, and fans of this project for your helpful advice and location information. This project would not be successful without your contributions.

Version 16 contains the following additions: Rakwon Machine Complex, Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory, Manpo Restaurant, Worker’s Party No. 3 Building (including Central Committee and Guidance Dept.), Pukchang Aluminum Factory, Pusan-ri Aluminum Factory, Pukchung Machine Complex, Mirim Block Factory, Pyongyang General Textile Factory, Chonnae Cement Factory, Pyongsu Rx Joint Venture, Tongbong Cooperative Farm, Chusang Cooperative Farm, Hoeryong Essential Foodstuff Factory, Kim Ki-song Hoeryong First Middle School , Mirim War University, electricity grid expansion, Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground (TSLG)” is also known as the “Musudan-ri Launching Station,” rebuilt electricity grid, Kumchang-ri suspected underground nuclear site, Wangjaesan Grand Monument, Phothae Revolutionary Site, Naedong Revolutionary Site, Kunja Revolutionary Site, Junggang Revolutionary Site, Phophyong Revolutionary Site, Samdung Revolutionary Site, Phyongsan Granite Mine, Songjin Iron and Steel Complex (Kimchaek), Swedish, German and British embassy building, Taehongdan Potato Processing Factory, Pyongyang Muyseum of Film and Theatrical Arts, Overseas Monuments built by DPRK: Rice Museum (Muzium Padi) in Malaysia, Statue de Patrice Lumumba (Kinshasa, DR Congo), National Heroes Acre (Windhoek, Namibia), Derg Monument (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), National Heroes Acre (Harare, Zimbabwe), New State House (Windhoek, Namibia), Three Dikgosi (Chiefs) Monument (Gaborone, Botswana), 1st of May Square Statue of Agostinho Neto (Luanda, Angola), Momunment Heroinas Angolas (Luanda, Angola), Monument to the Martyrs of Kifangondo Battle (Luanda, Angola), Place de l’étoile rouge, (Porto Novo, Benin), Statue of King Béhanzin (Abomey, Benin), Monument to the African Renaissance (Dakar, Senegal), Monument to Laurent Kabila [pictured above] (Kinshasa, DR Congo).
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North Korea on Google Earth

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

North Korea Uncovered: Version 12
Download it here

mayday.JPGAbout this Project: This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, energy infrastructure, political facilities, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, national parks, shipping, mining, and railway infrastructure. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the 12th version.

Additions include: Tongch’ang-dong launch facility overlay (thanks to Mr. Bermudez), Yongbyon overlay with destroyed cooling tower (thanks to Jung Min Noh), “The Barn” (where the Pueblo crew were kept), Kim Chaek Taehung Fishing Enterprise, Hamhung University of education, Haeju Zoo, Pyongyang: Kim il Sung Institute of Politics, Polish Embassy, Munsu Diplomatic Store, Munsu Gas Station, Munsu Friendship Restaurant, Mongolian Embassy, Nigerian Embassy, UN World Food Program Building, CONCERN House, Czech Republic Embassy, Rungnang Cinema, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, Pyongyang Number 3 Hospital, Electric Machines Facotry, Bonghuajinlyoso, Second National Academy of Sciences, Central Committee Building, Party Administration Building, Central Statistics Bureau, Willow Capital Food House, Thongounjong Pleasure Ground, Onpho spa, Phipa Resort Hotel, Sunoni Chemical Complex (east coast refinery), Ponghwa Chemical complex (west coast refinery), Songbon Port Revolutionary Monument, Hoeryong People’s Library, Pyongyang Monument to the anti Japanese martyrs, tideland reclamation project on Taegye Island. Additionally the electricity grid was expanded and the thermal power plants have been better organized. Additional thanks to Ryan for his pointers.

I hope this map will increase interest in North Korea. There is still plenty more to learn, and I look forward to receiving your contributions to this project.

Version 12 available: Download it here

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Download glitch fixed: North Korea Google Earth (version 11)

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

The most authoritative map of North Korea on Google Earth
Download it here

This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the eleventh version.

Additions include: Mt. Paegun’s Ryonghung Temple and resort homes, Pyongyang’s Chongryu Restaurant, Swiss Development Agency (former UNDP office), Iranian Embassy, White Tiger Art Studio, KITC Store, Kumgangsan Store, Pyongyang Fried Chicken Restaurant, Kilju’s Pulp Factory (Paper), Kim Chaek Steel Mill, Chongjin Munitions Factory, Poogin Coal Mine, Ryongwun-ri cooperative farm, Thonggun Pavilion (Uiju), Chinju Temple (Yongbyon), Kim il Sung Revolutionary Museum (Pyongsong), Hamhung Zoo, Rajin electrified perimeter fence, Pyongsong market (North Korea’s largest), Sakju Recreation Center, Hoeryong Maternity Hospital, Sariwon Suwon reservoir (alleged site of US massacre), Sinpyong Resting Place, 700 Ridges Pavilion, Academy of Science, Hamhung Museum of the Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung, South Hamgyong House of Culture, Hamhung Royal Villa, Pork Chop Hill, and Pyongyang’s Olympic torch route. Additional thanks go to Martyn Williams for expanding the electricity grid, particularly in Samjiyon, and various others who have contributed time improving this project since its launch.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.  Additionally, this file is getting large and may take some time to load.

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Google Earth North Korea (version 6)

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

The most authoritative map of North Korea on Google Earth
North Korea Uncovered: Version 6
Download it here

kissquare.JPGThis map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the sixth version.

Additions to the newest version of North Korea Uncovered include: Alleged Syrian nuclear site (before and after bombing), Majon beach resort, electricity grid expansion, Runga Island in Pyongyang, Mt. Ryongak, Yongbyon historical fort walls, Suyang Fort walls and waterfall in Haeju, Kaechon-Lake Taesong water project, Paekma-Cholsan waterway, Yachts (3), and Hyesan Youth Copper Mine.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.

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North Korean Students Know about Keynes and Freedman?

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

Daily NK
Yoon Il Gun
10/10/2007

A famous professor at Sunchon University in South Korea, Kim Yong Ok, who was invited to the Summit, opened to the public his discussion with Sung Ja Rip, the president of Kim Il Sung University, on October 8th in a JoongAng Daily Newspaper interview.

According to the article, Kim asked President Sung, “Did you study Freeman?” and the Chancellor answered, “Aren’t theories of Keynes and Freedman the basics?”

Seemingly, it sounds as if North Korean college students and intellectuals can freely study about economic theories of modern capitalism or modern thought.

Unfortunately, this is not true. Only cadres of the Party or those favored by the regime could have access to foreign books on modern thinking.

Kim Myung Chul (32, pseudonym) defected from the North while he was still a student at Kim Il Sung University. Mr. Kim’s testimony is as follows.

“There is a ‘closed library’ on the fourth floor of the Grand People’s Study House in Pyongyang. Foreign books at the library are only available for cadres of the Party or VIPs. Chancellor Sung Ja Rip must have read the theories of Keynes and Freedman at ‘the closed library’,” Mr. Kim said.

“There is discrimination in access to books and data against the general public,” Mr. Kim said, “general college students have no chance to study Keynes and Freedman.”

Since Kim Il Sung’s “May 25 Instruction” in 1967, most of books on western literature and philosophy have been burnt or smeared with ink, or pages have been torn out of books. Such vandalism was carried out under the so called “Book Arrangement Activity.” For some time thereafter, the general public had no access to books, even to those related to Karl Marx.

“Pyongyang Foreign Literature Publishing House” began to publish foreign books in 1984. From then on, the western classics in literature were made available. However, books on modern economics and modern thought are accessible only to the Party officials or some special groups at the “closed library.”

Mr. Kim said, “I had a chance to read the classics in North Korea but nothing on modern thought or economic theories. Only state-approved foreign books are readily accessible to the public. Ideologies or theories that seem to challenge the system are thoroughly denounced.”

Mr. Kim added, “In the late 1990s, the state education authorities approved classic economics and classic philosophy for public reading in order to stress the superiority of socialist economic theory and Juche Ideology.”

“In the 1990s, I checked out from library and read the classics such as Marx’s ‘Das Kapital,’ Engels’ ‘Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy,’ ‘The Holy Family,’ and Lenin’s ‘The State and Revolution.’ But the books were so old that the pages were worn out and yellow,” said Mr. Kim.

Mr. Kim also borrowed some books from those who had access to “the closed library.” The books he secretly borrowed and read were “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie, “From the Third World to First” by Lee Kuan Yew and “The Decameron” by Giovanni Boccaccio.

“Only approved literary works are translated and published. Many literary works which do not threaten the current system have been published,” Mr. Kim said, adding “When I was in college, I read many foreign books including novels written by Pushkin, John Byron, Heine, Shakespeare, Moliere, Stendhal, Tolstoy, Dumas, Victor Hugo, and Cervantes”

Unfortunately, Mr. Kim said, “I had never had a chance to read modern novels because only classics were made available. North Korea censors any books or information that it regards as a threat to the system or seems to produce illusions of capitalism.”

“Translations of up-to-date technology and information are weak,” Mr. Kim said, “When college students write their dissertations, they use outdated books as a reference.”

Mr. Kim also recalled that around 2001, it was all the rage among college students in Pyongyang to read “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell, and “An American Tragedy” by Theodore Dreiser.”

Ever since the former US President Jimmy Carter gave Kim Il Sung “Gone with the Wind” on video tape as a present upon his visit to Pyongyang in 1994, such American novels have been translated and published.

Kim Myung Chul added, “The authorities approved of publishing such books because they did not consider the books challenging to North Korea’s system or status quo. However, those college students who read the American books loved the opportunity of reading them, for it served as a chance to learn about America.”

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North Korea on Google Earth

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

Version 5: Download it here (on Google Earth) 

This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the fifth version.

Additions to the latest version of “North Korea Uncovered” include updates to new Google Earth overlays of Sinchon, UNESCO sites, Railroads, canals, and the DMZ, in addition to Kim Jong Suk college of eduation (Hyesan), a huge expansion of the electricity grid (with a little help from Martyn Williams) plus a few more parks, antiaircraft sites, dams, mines, canals, etc.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.

I hope this map will increase interest in North Korea. There is still plenty more to learn, and I look forward to receiving your additions to this project.

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North Korea Uncovered v.4 on Google Earth

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

The most authoritative, publicly available map of North Korea
Version 4: August 29, 2007

Download it here 

This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the fourth version.

Additions to the latest version of “North Korea Uncovered” include the city of Manpo along the Chinese border, KEDO, Kumgang Resort expansion, Kaesong Industrial Zone, as well as a few more parks, antiaircraft sites, dams, mines, canals, etc. I have also added more links in the menu which will tell the viewer a bit about the locations themselves. I have also changed the color scheme to make the collage easier to view.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.

I hope this map will increase interest in North Korea. There is still plenty more to learn, and I look forward to receiving your additions to this project.

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Kim Jong Il’s Yacht, UNESCO, Golf, and the Taean Glass Factory

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Now available on Google Earth! 
(click above to download to your own Google Earth)

North Korea Uncovered v.3

Google Earth added a high-resolution overlay of the area between Pyongyang and Nampo.  In it, most of the Koguryo tombs listed with UNESCO are now distinguishable.  In addition, viewers can see the latest Kim Jong Il palace (including a yacht), the DPRK’s premier golf course, and the Chinese-built Taean Glass factory.  I have also made some progress in mapping out the DPRK electricity grid.

This is the most authoritative map of North Korea that exists publicly today.  Agriculture, aviation, cultural institutions, manufacturing, railroad, energy, politics, sports, military, religion, leisure, national parks…they are all here, and will captivate anyone interested in North Korea for hours.

Naturally, I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds on the more “controversial” locations. In time, I hope to expand this further by adding canal and road networks.

I hope this post will launch a new interest in North Korea. There is still plenty more to learn, and I look forward to hearing about improvements that can be made.

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