Archive for the ‘United Kingdom’ Category

Teaching English in Pyongyang

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

The British Council arranges for English teaching opportunities in the DPRK (see here, here, and here).  Chris Lawrence has been teaching at Kim Il Sung University and his experiences there were recently covered by the BBC

According to the article:

It was a freezing cold February morning and Chris’s new classroom at the elite Kim Il-sung University in the capital Pyongyang wasn’t much warmer than the streets outside.

These days even the children of the party faithful can’t escape some of the hardships of everyday life in North Korea.

“The main problem is a lack of heating,” he said.

“Most of us in here are wearing our outdoor clothes as we work.”

Chris is one of a small team of English teachers forming a joint project between the British Council and the Government in Pyongyang.

In a sign that it may one day open up to the Western world, North Korea has gradually shifted a lot of its language training away from Chinese and Russian and towards English.

This is Chris’s first day in the job but his new class has already made an impact.

“I’m quite impressed by the level of English in this particular group” he told me.

“I expect the students will go on to occupy some quite important positions within Korean society.”

I asked one student what he hoped to do with his English.

“I hope to achieve speaking English so that I can go abroad and do some business because I want to be a businessman,” he said.

Another said he was going to be a diplomat.

They seemed, at the moment anyway, quite willing to engage with the outside world.

I asked one student who his favourite English authors were.

He hesitated and then said “Shakespeare… and Dickens”.

I asked him if he had read anyone more recent. There was a long embarrassed pause and then he replied: “Um… Jane Eyre… or Hamlet…”

The government wasn’t only keeping a close eye on their reading list.

Everything the students said to me was being listened to by government officials who were there the entire time I was in the country, travelling on a journalist’s visa.

But despite their presence, none of the students felt the need to include in their answers to me the usual rhetoric of “studying for the glory of the party and the dear and great leaders.”

They were quite happy to talk about what they wanted to achieve in life as individuals.

It was in marked contrast to their faculty head who went into a long monologue about the virtues of the “dear leader” President Kim Jong-il as soon as I switched on my microphone.

Heated debate

Across town at the nearby Pyongyang University for Foreign Studies, the staff were much more progressive.

They told me they were very pleased to have someone from the BBC because “we record the BBC News everyday to help the students improve their language skills”.

They played me some of their archive including news bulletins from the World Service that were almost a year old, so I knew they hadn’t been recorded just for my benefit.

I found the final year class next door having a heated debate in very good English about whether it was fair to keep animals in zoos.

The students were sophisticated, knowledgeable and engaging.

They quizzed me about the on-going Iraq inquiry in Britain and then 21-year-old Ri Ji-hye asked me if she could be frank.

“It’s so good that we can listen to [the] BBC,” she said.

“It helps us a lot learning English. I so much want my country to be one of those leading in the economy.”

“We’re already a leading nation in politics and other stuff. Well, it’s no offence but I want to learn English so that the other people get to learn [about] Korea.”

She smiled and said “Look at our faces – are we depressed, are we unhappy, are we hungry? No.”

That was certainly true of Ji-hye and her classmates.

But one of the challenges for her generation will not just be opening up to the rest of the world but opening their eyes to the world just beyond their city limits.

The British Ambassador to Pyongyang, Peter Hughes, is one of those who believes the country will have to wait for another generation before there’s any prospect of real change.

And he says few of people in the capital have any idea what life is like for the majority of North Koreans living beyond Pyongyang.

“I think it’s important to remember that Pyongyang is totally different from anything that’s outside of the city.”

“Only certain people can live here and one of the punishments for doing something wrong is actually to be banished outside of the city.”

“If you go out to the regional centres there is very little out there. The cities are in a bad state of repair. There are a large factories that are standing empty.”

Proud and patriotic

Back in the classroom at the Foreign Studies institute, another British Council teacher was showing North Korea’s “Generation next” how to run a brand campaign for Harley-Davidson, while on the streets outside people often stood more than a 100-strong waiting for a bus.

Pyongyang may be the country’s showcase city but even here it’s pretty obvious that the economy isn’t working.

Like their parents, the young North Koreans I met are proud and patriotic.

They have high hopes for their country even if they don’t yet understand just how far they’ve fallen behind their neighbour China.

But at least they may now be starting to learn enough about the real world to make sure they don’t repeat the same disastrous mistakes.

Read the full article here:
Meeting North Korea’s ‘Generation next’
Paul Danahar


North Korea wants to revive search for US MIAs

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

Michael Rank

I posted last year about a British Korean War pilot who is buried in North Korea. This got me interested in MIAs (missing in action) in the Korean War more generally, particularly Americans as there was in the 1990s rather surprisingly a joint US-North Korean programme to recover their remains.

This Clinton-era project foundered after a few years, not at all surprisingly, but there are now, equally surprisingly, signs the North Koreans want to revive it.

Admiral Robert F. Willard, the head of U.S. Pacific Command, said on Jan 27: “We’re going to enter into discussions with [North Korea] [about MIAs]. That is what we know right now.”

“They are willing to talk about it and we’re willing to address the particulars with them.”

“It’s a complex problem. We’ve been in (North Korea for recovery missions) before, and it appears that we’re being invited to consider going back again,” Willard told reporters at Camp Smith, Hawaii, according to the Honolulu Advertiser. “It’s something that we’ll take seriously and we’ll enter into dialogue with them and find out where it will lead.”

No date has been agreed on restarting the search for the remains. More than 8,100 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War, according to the Department of Defense.

During Operation GLORY in 1954, North Korea returned the remains of over 2,000 Americans, the Department of Defense says .

“Between 1954 and 1990, the U.S. was not successful in convincing North Korea to search for and return additional U.S. remains,” the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) states on its website.

“However, from 1990 to 1994, North Korea exhumed and returned what they claimed were 208 sets of remains. Unfortunately, their records and recovery methods have hampered U.S. efforts to identify most of these. The North Koreans co-mingled the remains and the associated personal effects. These difficulties underscored clearly the need for joint field activities in which U.S. expertise would guide the recovery process and improve the identification results.”

Larry Greer, director of public affairs of the DPMO in Arlington, VA, confirmed to me that the North Korean army “informed the United Nations that they were willing to talk about remains recovery operations. That was at a Panmunjom meeting on the 26th [Jan], our time. The U.S. has not yet responded.”

The US military newspaper Stars and Stripes last year quoted a US Defense Department anthropologist who had taken part in the hunt for MIA remains in the North as saying he was frustrated that the operation north of the border had been suspended.

“I am always disappointed when politics interfere with human rights and bringing closure to families whose relatives died in Korea so long ago,” said Jay Silverstein during a search for remains in South Korea close to the border with the North.

He said he hoped some day to return to North Korea to continue to search for the remains of U.S. service personnel. “I found the North Koreans very pleasant to work with,” said Silverstein, who was overseeing the excavations in Hwacheon county about eight miles from the border with North Korea.

“My experience was very positive. It gave me a lot of hope for the future … that relations between the North and the South and the West and the rest of Asia will someday be improved.

“I found [the North Koreans] to be very reasonable people. Very friendly. We could sit down and have a beer, or smoke a cigar, and talk. It was quite pleasant,” he added. [Surely the first time a US military official has ever said anything nice about North Koreans? Ed]

Apart from the suspended agreement with North Korea, the United States reached an agreement with China in 2008 “to formalize research in Chinese archives on Korean War POW/MIA matters.”

The Chinese side seems to have been reluctant to share much information with the Americans so far, but the Chinese news agency Xinhua reported last October that “Chinese military archivists have identified more than 100 documents that could lead to the repatriation of the remains of the United States personnel who disappeared during and after the Korean War”.

It added that “China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Archives Department has been combing more than 1.5 million archives of the then People’s Volunteer Army (PVA), the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the PLA headquarters during the Korean War.

“Archivists have given at least four valuable archives found in the first 10 percent to the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) of the U.S. Department of Defense.”

The Chinese report mentioned how archivists had located the site where a U.S. bomber crashed in 1950 in the southern province of Guangdong. “After visiting the site and interviewing 19 witnesses who helped them identify the burial site of U.S. crew, they believe the possibility of finding the remains is high,” it added.

The DPMO’s Greer said that “We are making slow steady progress” in the joint archive project.

He said that in September 2009 the US hosted six PLA archivists for annual discussions and to review arrangements, and that the archivists provided additional information on the Guangdong crash site which was part of their annual report in June 2009.

In October 2009, General Xu Caihou 徐才厚, vice-chairman of the PLA’s Central Military Commission, presented four Chinese-language documents to Defense Secretary Robert Gates during a visit to Washington.

“The documents concerned the Guangdong site and a F-86 Korean War crash site in China about which we were already aware.We have requested permission to investigate the Guangdong Province crash site in April this year,” Greer told me in an email.

“At the September 2009 meeting we also discussed amending our arrangement to facilitate the transfer of actual documents from the PLA archives to us and to permit joint PLA archives-DOD accounting community remains recovery work in China. The amendment process is underway now, but not final,” he added.

The South Koreans, who lost tens of thousands of soldiers in the war, would also like to hunt for their remains in the North.

President Lee Myung-bak said in a New Year’s address this would be an appropriate way to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War.

But relations between the two Koreas are so frigid that I would lay a much bigger bet on the US search for MIAs restarting than on a similar agreement being signed between Pyongyang and Seoul.

With many thanks to Daily NK for drawing my attention to North Korea’s interest in reviving the MIA search.

The US has rejected the DPRK offer.  According to Reuters:

The United States on Thursday rebuffed a North Korean offer to reopen talks on finding U.S. soldiers missing since the Korean War, saying Pyongyang must first resume discussions on ending its nuclear ambitions.


British pilot burried in DPRK

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

UPDATE:  Michael posts much more, including pictures, here.  Despite locating the ri and seeing pictures of the grave I have been unable to find it on Google Earth.  Let me know if you have better luck.

ORIGINAL POST: Michael Rank uncovered an interesting story about a British pilot shot down during the Korean War who is now buried near Pyongyang’s Sunan Airport. According to the article:

There can be no lonelier grave anywhere on Earth. Amid fields close to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, lie the remains of Flight Lieutenant Desmond Hinton, a British fighter pilot who flew for the United States Air Force as a member of United Nations forces in the Korean War.

Hinton is officially listed as missing in action (MIA), but his brother David, himself a retired Royal Air Force pilot, traced records of how and where Desmond died and managed to visit his grave in highly secretive North Korea.

David discovered in RAF archives a graphic report of how his brother died on January 2, 1952.

F/Lt [Flight Lieutenant] DFW Hinton had been ordered to undertake an interdiction and reconnaissance mission in the area of Sunan-Pyongyang with three other aircraft from his unit … After making a bomb run on railroad tracks just north of Sunan, he called the other members of his flight saying he was hit and on fire.

The aircraft was then seen to crash into the ground and explode on impact. The remaining three aircraft flew over the wreckage of F/Lt Hinton’s aircraft for 15 minutes, but returned to their home base after seeing no evidence that F/Lt Hinton was alive. Sadly, F/Lt Hinton is still reported as missing.

From this account, David had a good idea of where his brother had gone down in his F84e Thunderjet, over the Sunan area of Pyongyang which is now the location of the city’s airport.

He managed to buy a US military map of North Korea, and contacted the Foreign Office in London in the hope that the recently opened British Embassy in Pyongyang would be willing to ask the North Koreans if they could provide any further evidence concerning his brother’s fate. The British ambassador David Slinn and his colleague Jim Warren were only too happy to help, and found the North Koreans surprisingly cooperative.

It turned out that despite the North Korean government’s reputation of being deeply xenophobic, the remains of Desmond Hinton, who was fighting for the hated “Yankee imperialists”, had been given a decent burial close to where his body fell to ground.

David was therefore determined to pay his respects to his brother at his grave and in 2004 embarked on a remarkable journey to North Korea, taking the train from Beijing to Pyongyang.

The grave consists simply of a mound of earth surrounded by a white picket fence, without any inscription. It lies close to a narrow footpath on a hillside 200 meters from the road, near the village of Kuso-ri and 2.5 kilometers east of Pyongyang airport.

David was told that not long before his visit, his brother’s remains had been moved about 50 meters to a more accessible location.

He was introduced at the grave to two witnesses to Desmond’s crash, a Mr Ri and Mr Han, local villagers who were only 13-years old at the time but appeared to have perfect recollections of the event. “They told how the aircraft passed directly over their houses at very low level and they were at the crashed aircraft within minutes,” David said.

He asked his hosts if they could dig up a piece of Desmond’s clothing, and was deeply moved when he was presented with part of his flying suit.

He would have loved to have been given Desmond’s identity disc too, but was told this had been taken by Chinese troops who were fighting with the North Koreans against the US and other forces.

David gave a short speech at the grave, thanking Colonel Kwak and the ambassador for making his visit possible, while the head of the village promised to tend the grave and paint the fence regularly.

As a former RAF officer, David was also anxious to fix the position of the grave. “I went to the memorial to the Great Leader Kim Il-sung near the village in sight of the grave and took a compass bearing. The grave bears 160 degrees, 500 meters from the obelisk,” he noted in his diary.

Read the full story in the Asia Times:
Finally, laid to rest in Pyongyang
Asia Times
Michael Rank


Tesco reports drop in sales to North Koreans in Dandong

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

According to Bloomberg, North Koreans in the Chinese city of Dandong have slashed purchases of ham, shirts, and candy at UK-owned Tesco:

At the Tesco store, Zhao said fewer North Koreans are coming in, and they’re spending less. Most North Koreans can’t freely cross the border, and only those with the ability to travel abroad shop in Dandong.

“Before this year, they would buy over 10,000 yuan in goods, now they typically only spend thousands,” she said. (10,000 yuan is about $1,460.)

Shopkeepers working within sight of the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge spanning the Yalu River that separates the countries said traffic is down by as much as half since May.

Fan Bo said he sells about 10 generators a month to North Korea, all to Chinese companies doing business there. “The North Koreans don’t need generators,” he said. “They don’t use electricity.” Mao Yifeng, a tire seller, blames the global financial crisis for the slowdown.

Over the course of half an hour on Aug. 12, two empty blue Chinese trucks crossed the bridge into Dandong. One diesel freight train, also Chinese, crossed to China from North Korea. The open door on one of its two cars revealed there was nothing inside.

Over 45 minutes the next morning, two empty trucks and three empty North Korean buses crossed into China. No trucks were seen heading into the North.

A souvenir salesman who only gave his surname, Huang, said he’s seen road and rail traffic on the Friendship Bridge fall by about half since North Korea’s nuclear test in May. “It was never busy, now it’s even less,” Huang said.

….Trade Aid

China is the North’s biggest trading partner. Its support for the regime can be gauged by the trade surplus it runs with the country, according to Nicholas Eberstadt, a Korea specialist at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. That fell to $386 million in the first half of this year from $1.27 billion in all of 2008, as China’s imports of coal from North Korea hit the highest level in at least five years, China’s Ministry of Commerce data show.

“China is Kim Jong Il’s patron of last resort,” said Eberstadt. “If net transfers from China continue to shrink, it will be ‘back to the 1990s’ for North Korea. That can only be an alarming prospect for Kim Jong Il and his would-be successors.”

Official trade statistics, incomplete and not including goods smuggled by sea or across the 1,415-kilometer (880 mile) border, show two-way trade between China and North Korea fell 2.5 percent in the first six months of this year to $1.12 billion, according to China’s Commerce Ministry. Trade between China and South Korea during the same period was $67.6 billion.

Read the full artilce here:
North Koreans Spurn Tesco Ham as China Trade Withers
Michael Forsythe


Confusion over UK-North Korea travel ban cleared up

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

UPDATE 4: from a reliable source

The situation was caused by a mistranslation. Following the nuclear test and rocket launch earlier in 2009, the FCO suspended funding (and therefore visas) for FCO FUNDED DPRK PROJECTS IN THE UK for three months. This, unfortunately, was mistranslated into “suspending visas for DPRK citizens”, thus the cerfuffle.

UPDATE 3: By Michael Rank

Confusion over a reported ban on Britons visiting North Korea and North Koreans coming to Britain seems to have been cleared up.

Koryo Tours said last week that they had been informed by their partner, Korea International Travel Company, that “In connection with the recent measures taken by UK government not to allow DPRK citizens to enter the UK we also will not receive any UK citizens as tourists to the DPRK for the time being.”

After some confusion, a spokesman for the North Korean embassy in London said on Monday that they had been reassured that there was no ban on DPRK citizens visiting Britain and that North Korea was therefore issuing visas to Britons as normal, although as usual it “depends on the case”.  He had “no idea” how the confusion had arisen.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman confirmed that “we have not introduced any new measures (regarding visas for North Koreans), nor have we refused any visas recently.”

The Home Office recently posted figures showing that in recent years Britain has somewhat surprisingly issued 13-18 North Koreans a year with tourist visas, including a few under-18s. Most of the few North Koreans visiting Britain presumably come as part of official delegations, including a Workers’ Party of Korea group who came last January.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Monday: “No individual [North Korean] officials are currently subject to travel bans or asset freezes. The new UN Security Council Resolution 1874, passed on 12 June 2009 tasks the UN Sanctions Committee to designate further organisations and individuals for travel bans and asset freezes.”

UPDATE 2: Koryo Tours has notified me that the visa restriction has now been lifted.  According to their email:

We have just been informed by our Korean partners that the ban on UK citizens travelling to the DPRK has been lifted and they are now once more accepting visa applications from Brits.

All tours will be running as expected with no restrictions on any nationalities, and all US tours in the summer are expected to also go ahead.

UPDATE 1:  Michael Rank has managed to uncover the number of tourist visas issued by the UK government to North Korean citizens from 2005-2008 (source):

Over 18: 17
Under 18: 1

Over 18: 13
Under 18: 3
Over 18: 12
Under 18: 1

Over 18: 15
Under 18: 2

See the origins of the travel ban below:



DPRK – ROK ambassadors attend London panel

Monday, April 13th, 2009


(Hat tip to a reader) On March 26, the Anglo-Korea Society in London hosted an interesting panel discussion with the London ambassadors from both North and South Korea along with Martin Uden, Britain’s ambassador to the ROK, and Stephen Lillie, the head of the FCO Far East Group.

It is a bit too late to attend, but below are summary links and photos:
1. Official page of the event (pictures at the bottom)

2. Pearl Daborn summary

3. Michael Rank summary

4. Jennifer Barclay summary

5. Marian Werner summary


UK parliamentarians visit Pyongyang churches, urge US normalisation

Monday, February 16th, 2009

By Michael Rank
Link to full report by Lord David Alton and Baroness Caroline Cox  at the bottom of this story


Above: Alton and Cox present a Bible to Jang Che On, chairman of the Korean Consultative Society of Religious Believers
Photo by Mark Rowland

A British politician who visited North Korea this month to investigate the country’s human rights record and promote dialogue said she had been pleasantly surprised to come across an active Protestant seminary in Pyongyang with about 10 students and a church with a Bible on every pew.

Baroness Caroline Cox, who visited Pyongyang as vice chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for North Korea, also urged the United States to end hostilities with North Korea and open an embassy in Pyongyang, just as Britain did 10 years ago.

Cox, a devout Christian, said she was sure the congregation at the Protestant Pongsu church included many genuine worshippers as well as some officials and informers, and that the church was not simply a propaganda showcase for the regime.

She told NKEW that the church was “surprisingly big” and that the attached seminary had been opened with South Korean support and that South Koreans had apparently provided the Bibles. She was told that about 300 people regularly attend Sunday services.

She said she that although “there is a show element in it”, she did not believe the seminary could be written off simply as an empty showcase, as she had to push quite hard to visit it and some officials did not seem aware of its existence.

Cox said Choe Thae Bok, chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly, repeated an official invitation to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, to visit the DPRK. Choe met Williams when he visited London in 2004.

Cox and the Parliamentary Group’s chairman, Lord Alton, a fervent Catholic, also visited the recently opened Russian Orthodox church which she described as “extremely beautiful” and where they met two North Korean priests, Fathers Thaddeus and Theodore.  She said the Moscow-trained Father Thaddeus was particularly warm and open, but she added that the congregation appeared to consist entirely of Russian diplomats and business people rather than North Koreans.

The delegation also, somewhat surprisingly perhaps, called for senior North Korean military officials to be invited to visit Sandhurst, Britain’s premier military academy.

Cox said their visit, their second to Pyongyang, was aimed at building “bridges not walls” and that she believed there are “people [in North Korea] who genuinely want to dig themselves out of the hole they have been dug into by the Great Leader.” She and Alton first visited North Korea in 2003.

The two said in a statement that they were were “less than encouraged by our visit to Changchung Catholic Cathedral and our meeting with Mr Jang Jae On, Chairman of the Korean Consultative Society of Religious Believers.

“The delegation expressed their dismay at the continued failure to provide a resident Catholic priest and the lack of progress in normalising relations with the Holy See.

“The delegation emphasised to Mr Jang that if the DPRK wishes to send a positive message about its respect for religious freedom, as enshrined in its Constitution, it would address these two fundamental issues.

“Concerns were also raised about why the importing of Bibles should remain a serious offence, which has been treated in some cases as a capital offence. The delegation gave Korean Bibles to their hosts as a sign of respect and we hope these were received in the spirit in which they were given.”

On the political side, the group’s recommendations include:

1. “a call to the incoming Administration of President Barack Obama to instigate a formal cessation of hostilities and normalisation of relations with the Democratic Peoples republic of North Korea (DPRK). The United Kingdom established a diplomatic mission in the Pyongyang ten years ago; this would be an opportune moment for the United States to do the same.

2. “a recognition of the error of not linking human rights and security concerns in the six-party talks – constructive critical engagement with Pyongyang is recommended: a ‘Helsinki Process with a Korean Face.’

“a call for renewed concerted international pressure to grant access to Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn – the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, access to the DPRK. He has estimated that 400,000 people have died in the camps in the last 30 years.

3. “encouragement of the DPRK to allow greater freedom of information for its citizens and access for aid agencies to carry out their work – in particular in the areas of capacity building and health care.

Their principal findings include:

1. deep concerns over human rights, humanitarian and security issues – issues they raised during high level meetings with DPRK government ministers and officials.

2. the consequences of deteriorating relations between North and South Korea which could jeopardise a historic opportunity for progress.

3. observations about political and religious liberties, including some positive developments which were noted and appreciated.

Their full report can be read  at the London/Korea Links web page.


Teach English in Pyongyang

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

As reported last year, the British Council in Beijing is recruiting English teachers to work in Pyongyang.  According to Yonhap, the number of expats living in Pyongyang to teach English was recently increased from 3 to 4. According to the story:

Last September, North Korea moved up the start year of English education to the third grade from the sixth, Seoul officials said.

“The DPRK government continues to support this program, and we take this as evidence that they give importance to raising the standard of English in DPRK schools and universities,” Bilbow said in an email interview with Yonhap. DPRK is the acronym of the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

With access to native English speakers scarce in the communist state, North Korea asked Britain for assistance after the two countries established diplomatic relations in 2000. The British Council started the teacher trainer program two years later.

British instructors, recruited among those who have a diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language with at least three years of work experience, teach a small group of elite university students and local English teachers who will later be deployed to provincial education universities and schools.

Bilbow said the program is now available at three of the top North Korean universities in Pyongyang — Kim Hyong Jik University, the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies and Kim Il Sung University. About 150 students and in-service teachers are taking the courses at each university, he said.

The program, the only one offered in the North by native English speakers, has the full support of the Pyongyang government, Bilbow said.

In a show of such support, Choe Thae-bok, chairman of the North’s parliament, Supreme People’s Assembly, told a visiting British parliamentary delegation last week that his granddaughter was learning English from British native speakers and asked the delegation to help enlarge the program, according to Radio Free Asia on Tuesday.

“In DPRK, exposure to the wider English language teaching community has been scarce, though the project has done much to bridge the gap,” Bilbow said.

“In time, it will mean improved English language education which in turn will allow DPRK citizens to access the educational resources and opportunities that are available to competent English users worldwide,” he said.

Cho Jeong-ah, an analyst with the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, said the North Korean government closely monitors global educational trends and adjusts its education system. Pyongyang believes English education will help enhance its relations with other countries and boost its economic drive, Cho said.

“North Korean natural resources are limited, and its relations with the United States, which can draw economic assistance, won’t be resolved overnight. North Korea seems to be trying to reach its goal by developing human resources,” Cho said.

Learn more about the British Council’s English education program herePDF here.

Read the full Yonhap story here:
N. Korea welcoming native English teachers with open arms
Kim Hyun


British Methodist Church providing aid to DPRK

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

From the Methodist Church of Great Britain:

This month, The Fund for World Mission will grant £5,000 to help the Church in North Korea run a food production company to help people there.

Steve Pearce, Partnership Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific, said: “Times are particularly hard for all the people of North Korea at the present time. The North Korean population is cut off and isolated from the rest of the world and dependent on the regime for their needs. Food is scarce for many – there are problems in the supply of humanitarian aid.

“Christianity is treated as ‘a bad element’ in this socialist country. Christians have been beaten, arrested, tortured, or killed because of their religious beliefs but local sources estimates the number of underground Christians to be at least 200,000, maybe many more, and many of them are imprisoned for their faith.

The British Methodist Church and the Ecumenical Forum for Peace, Reunification and Development on the Korean Peninsula have been developing common projects with Church representatives from North and South Korea, North America and Europe.

Read the full article here:
Methodist Church lends support to Christians in North Korea
Methodist Church of Great Britian


UK appoints new amassador to DPRK

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

From KCNA:

Kim Yong Nam Receives Credentials from British Ambassador to DPRK
Pyongyang, September 30 (KCNA) — Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly, received credentials from Peter Hughes, ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the DPRK, at the Mansudae Assembly Hall on Tuesday.

After receiving the credentials, Kim had a talk with the ambassador.