North Koreans learning economics in Canada

UPDATE 2 (2012-11-19): Writing in 38 North, Kyung-Ae Park offers some more details on the program which brings these North Korean students to Canada:

The UBC program has been hosting North Korean professors since 2011 as part of a long-term knowledge sharing exchange initiative. For its inaugural effort, KPP hosted six North Korean scholars, five from the Kim Il Sung University and one from Wonsan Economic University. The scholars, who arrived in early July and studied at UBC through December 2011, took English courses during the summer and business and management courses from September focusing on international trade, management, finance, and economics. The curriculum consisted of regular, unmodified courses also attended by UBC students. As part of the curriculum, participants completed a group research project with faculty supervision on an aspect of international trade/finance stemming from their studies at UBC. In addition, they had opportunities to take field trips, and meet with leading individuals in Canada’s financial, business, and legal communities, as well as fellow academics.

Now in its second year, KPP is hosting another group of six participants, this time from Kim Il Sung University, the University of National Economy, and the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies. As in the previous year, these scholars will be provided with an in-depth education of the international economy and policies implemented by other countries. With this second year of the program well underway, UBC has emerged as a leader in academic engagement with North Korea. There is great optimism that KPP will serve as a possible model for other educational institutions interested in exploring knowledge sharing programs with North Korea in the future.

Read the full story here.

UPDATE 1 (2012-7-20): Yonhap reports that the the Canadian-run program of bringing North Koreans  to the University of British Colombia to learn about economics is continuing. According to the article:

Six professors of leading North Korean universities are staying in Vancouver to study capitalism at a Canadian university on a six-month program, the program director said Friday, drawing fresh attention to the North’s possible transition under its Swiss-educated young leader.

The economics professors from three North Korean universities arrived in Canada earlier this month to take courses at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in the fall semester, which begins in September, after a two-month language course, Professor Park Kyung-ae, director of the Center for Korean Research, said.

“They will mainly study international business, economics, finance and trade,” Park told Yonhap News by phone, without giving further details of their identifications.

The elite universities include Kim Il-sung University, the top university named after the country’s founding leader, the People’s Economics University and the Pyongyang Foreign Language College, Park said. All the institutions are located in the North’s capital, Pyongyang.

They are the second group of visiting professors to take the courses under the Canada-DPRK Knowledge Partnership Program, which Park helped launch at UBC last year. DPRK stands for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

A group of six professors, five from Kim Il-sung University, attended the program in the fall semester last year, which included meetings with CEOs of Canadian law firms, banks, insurance companies and energy firms.

“There was no such long-term program related to North Korea in the past,” said Park, who visited the communist state last month. “The professors who completed last year’s course did their best and had good relations with other professors and faculty members. As they successfully finished the course, we were able to continue the program this year as well.”

ORIGINAL POST (2011-8-18): Just as Canada tightens sanctions on the DPRK, news comes out that the Canadians are running a very worthwhile program–teaching economics to North Korean professors! Let’s hope this program can be expanded!   According to Yonhap:

Six North Korean professors are studying economics and other related subjects at a university in Canada on a months-long program initiated by the school, the program director said Wednesday, opening a rare opportunity for the people of the repressive regime.

Professor Park Kyung-ae, director of the Center for Korean Research at the University of British Columbia, told Yonhap News Agency the North Koreans arrived last month to study international business, international economics, finance and trade. Five of the visiting professors teach these subjects at Kimilsung University, the elite North Korean institution named after the country’s founding leader, while one teaches at a university of economics in the eastern city of Wonsan, she said, declining to give further details.

The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported earlier that the six professors from Kimilsung University were studying on an MBA course at the university in Vancouver. In fact, Park said the North Koreans will study four subjects at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels starting in September, after completing a two-month English language course.

The visiting professors are the first group to have been invited under the Canada-DPRK Knowledge Partnership Program, which Park helped launch at UBC last year. DPRK stands for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The program is very unusual in that it allows North Korea’s college professors to conduct research (overseas) on a long-term basis,” Park said, saying the professors will stay for a total of six months. “Other universities in North America are paying close attention to the program, and through it, I plan to push for exchanges between university officials of the two countries.”

Park, who has traveled to Pyongyang on several occasions since the mid-1990s and hosted North Korean delegation visits to Canada, said she believes educational exchanges are an important mechanism through which the two countries can improve ties. She noted that North Korea and Canada established diplomatic relations in 2001, but their ties have faltered over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Since the 1990s, the North Korean regime has been known to send a selected few, mostly government officials, to study the market economy in Switzerland and other countries. However, these people have only been allowed to stay for several weeks, apparently due to fears they will try to escape the control of their repressive regime.


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